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Giving Johnsons a Good Name

Matt Johnson on what Movember means to him

Culture

The TV presenter, podcaster and mental health campaigner Matt Johnson talks to us about hosting the Movember Awards 2020.

Backstage at the Movember Awards and Matt Johnson is clearing a sofa covered in Pringles and nuts and various other snacks devoured in a pre-awards show nervous frenzy. Not by Matt, we might add, but by the Movember team who’ve been prepping all day for the inaugural Movember Awards 2020, a ceremony designed to celebrate fundraisers and supporters of the men’s health charity. Matt is one of those supporters and tonight he’s hosting the awards and giving out prizes to some remarkable winners…but before he did that, he sat down to talk to us (crushing some crisps into his suit as he did so…).

How did you become involved with Movember?

I first became aware of Movember many years ago through Welsh rugby really. Lots of the players grew ‘taches, and I grew one about 10 years ago. But more recently with the work I’ve been doing raising awareness for men’s mental health I’ve become more closely affiliated with them. Especially over the last two to three years, I’ve been to lots of their events and they invited me to be the host of their first ever awards this evening, which is a huge honour.

I also did my first full Movember month, during which I ran the New York marathon. I really genuinely felt a part of something it was an amazing experience. For a month, men liked me! I’ve got my own hang-ups about men probably hating me because I’m a shiny boy off the telly and all that nonsense, but for an entire month it felt like men would give you a nod, like ‘you give a shit’. It’s a visual representation that you give a shit about men’s health, and that was quite nice, you feel like you’re in a team.

What style did you go for?

I went for a Tom Selleck. I thought, I’m going to bust this out. I’m at that age where I could pull it off.

Why are these awards important?

It is vital, especially in a world where suicide is the biggest killer for young men, and mental health issues are rife for men. And health issues for men as well, many men are suffering because of the inability for whatever reason to feel vulnerable or ask for help, whether it’s a physical illness or a mental illness. To have an awards to celebrate people giving a damn about that is very, very important to me. I do like awards ceremonies but some of them are made-up nonsense by sponsors or broadcasters, but the more award ceremonies that support people doing good, it inspires other people to do good as well.

How important are role models and leaders in showing men this stuff is ok?

More important than ever. My role models when I grew up weren’t necessarily healthy for me. They didn’t exist for a start, they were usually superheroes. But they were always a bit of a bully, very alpha, a bit toxic. What these awards do specifically is they highlight people who champion vulnerability, they champion people and their imperfections, and they champion men coming together and communicating and feeling like you’re not alone. And that your vulnerability is your strength. It’s very important nowadays to have true idols, and true superheroes because the guys who go out there and raise money and raise thousands of pounds and run around the world. these people are the real heroes.

When you see all these different types of nominees you get a real sense of the scale of this developing.

Yeah all around the country and different countries around the world, and all different types of fields. It’s 9.2million that’s been raised this year.

What else are you up to this year?

We’re on our third season of The Naked Professors podcast which is an absolute joy. Also doing podcasts for Movember as well. I released some journals before Christmas, the #Checkin Journal which really helped me, journaling and checking in , that did really well before Christmas so I really want to try and keep that going, to get more journals to more people and open up another area in my life where I would like to facilitate care for lots of people and make it affordable. I feel my mental health awareness is my true passion and my true purpose.

My other work is plowing away with TV presenting, doing the postcode lottery going around the country giving people money, which is great.

And continue trying to be the best stepdad I can. Did you what I did there? I went straight into all the things that I thought would be good but my main thing is actually just trying to be a good stepdad, just trying not to be a dick! Everything else is just noise…

Read more about the work of Movember.

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