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Movember and DGR announce funding for first responder mental health support programs

Leading men’s health charity Movember, in partnership with The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) and Gillette has today announced multi-country grants funding for mental health programs that improve support for First Responders.

An initial investment of £3.38M/€3.92mil from Movember and DGR is being earmarked over the next two years to support this First Responder initiative as well as a Veteran and First Responder Initiative in Australia and Canada. A further £750,000 in funding is being provided through Gillette towards specific First Responder programs in the UK and Germany.

A minimum of 10 programs globally in total will be supported under a Veterans and First Responders Mental Health Program. This includes a minimum of three first responder programs in the UK which have already shown initial promise of improved mental health and wellbeing, or prevention of suicide, for a period of two years. Funding in the amount of up to GBP £133,000 per annum each with a total maximum value of £266,000 per funded program is being offered to successful teams.

The announcement follows an independent multi-country review commissioned by Movember and conducted by Dr Donald McCreary in 2019, which revealed a lack of publicly available evidence of the overall effectiveness and co-ordination of existing programs to support the needs of this group.

“Firefighters, paramedics and police officers are on the front line of our community each day, and they are also disproportionately affected by suicide and mental health issues, given they are likely to be exposed to various workplace stressors throughout their careers, including regular traumatic events,” Movember Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Brendan Maher said.

“We’re proud to be providing support to these groups of men in the community, along with their families through our grants funding program, and to build evidence around approaches and programs that truly make a difference. We’re also grateful for the collaboration offered by our program partner, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, and by Movember’s official partner, Gillette.”

“Many riders that participate in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride have either served in the military or work in front line emergency response. We appreciate the risks they’ve taken, the sacrifices they’ve made and the impact that has had on their own mental health and wellbeing. It makes me really proud that the funds we’ve raised for Movember will help deliver support and services for this unique group of individuals.” Mark Hawwa, Founder, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride.

The review, spanning Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK involved assessing scientific research available on early intervention and prevention programs in the general workforce and amongst veteran and first responder organisations.

Dr McCreary also interviewed subject matter experts in each country to better understand how these programs are being used, as well as conducting a comprehensive desktop review of digital and social media platforms to find and assess program information.

“The community has certainly looked to address the concerns around mental ill-health and suicide amongst military veterans and first responders, however, the review found there was little published evidence to indicate how effective existing mental health programs for this group are. Where programs do improve the mental health of participants, the effects are relatively minor and diminish over time. There is also little central co-ordination or knowledge sharing across existing programs,” Dr McCreary said.

A minimum of eight programs will be funded across all countries, with the purpose of the grants to identify current programs showing promise in improving the mental health of men in these groups and to build the evidence for effective interventions.

The funding forms part of Movember’s mental health cause area, and is in line with its approach of supporting scalable, evidence-based programs that focus on early intervention and prevention, to ultimately prevent suicide and improve mental health and wellbeing amongst this community.

Applications for grants are open until 23 November 2020. For more information about the grants program, eligibility and process, visit movember.com/vfrgrants

For a copy of the Veteran and First Responder Mental Ill Health and Suicide Prevention report published by Dr Donald McCreary, visit movember.com/vfrgrants