Mental health awareness: Too many people have had a skewed view of what it means to “Be a man” for hundreds of years. Popular culture’s portrayals of men have made it harder for people to talk about men’s health and well-being because they have a twisted view of gender roles in society. Because of this, guys are often less likely to ask for help and less likely to go to the doctor for regular checkups or early intervention.
Recently, there have been efforts to break down these barriers and encourage open conversation about men’s health awareness. For example, “Movember” has been successful in making more people aware of men’s health problems, especially prostate cancer and mental health. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive (DGD) is another group working to bring about change. It grew out of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, which was started by Mark Hawwa in Sydney, Australia, in 2011.
‘Gentleman’s Drive’ health awareness on men’s health in Dubai
As part of the DGD program for men’s health awareness, drivers and passengers dress in a way that is considered “dapper,” which is a tribute to classic style that goes well with the classic elegance of their cars from before 1980. More than 6,000 drivers have taken part in more than 200 different drive events in 66 countries around the world since the first drive in 2021 for health awareness cause. This group effort has not only brought a lot of attention to the Movember movement, but it has also raised almost $400,000 (USD), which is very important for funding life-saving research and key programs.
Dubai joined the list of countries taking part in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive for the first time in 2023 for men’s health awareness. The people who put together DGD Dubai, host Frad Tabarrok, and co-hosts Ewan Cairns and Simon King, talked to Khaleej Times about how they came to create The Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive and how it has changed men’s health awareness in the city. Parts of a conversation that have been edited:
Tell us about how The Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive came to be…
The bikes were the first. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride was started in 2011 after seeing a picture of Don Draper from the TV show Mad Men riding a classic motorbike while dressed in his best suit. Mark thought that a themed ride would be a great way to bring together specific groups of motorcycle fans and raise money to help the guys in our lives. That’s what the Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive is all about. The main goal is to bring attention to men’s health issues that aren’t given enough attention, especially prostate cancer and mental health problems.
Second, Distinguished Gentlemen who take part in the events raise money for the Movember movement (www.movember.com) in countries where local laws allow it. After that, these funds are used to support men’s health and well-being all over the world through important studies and programs for prostate cancer and men’s mental health issues. The goal is to make men’s lives better and happy.
Over the past few years, problems with men’s mental health have also become more public. How does the effort make people more aware of it?
DGD also works hard to raise knowledge about mental health issues as well as prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer in men. Every minute of every day, one man kills himself around the world. That’s 500,000 men each year. Taking your own life is a very complicated problem. There is no one reason why men do it. On the other hand, we know that improving mental health awareness in general can lower the chance of suicide.
Some of the main goals are to help guys make better social connections and deal with mental health problems that aren’t getting treated. Not enough guys are getting through it alone. The usual barriers and shame that come with getting help for your mental health are still there. The Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive and Movember are breaking down these hurdles together, but they need help to do it.
On September 24, the first drive took place in Dubai. How did everything for the event come together?
But this won’t be the last Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive in Dubai for health awareness. It was the first one. We had only three weeks to plan and carry out a great event, which was very hard. In the end, 61 cars were registered for the drive, and all of them were dated before 1980. In line with the term’s roots, “dress dapper,” drivers and customers wore period clothes that looked really great. A lot of people wore flat caps, waistcoats, and bow ties, and some wore flower power outfits from the 1960s that went with their cars.
In a parade, the beautiful cars were led by the Dubai Police Supercar Division, which is also very beautiful but more modern. Volunteers from the Emirates Motorsport Organization helped out. At both sides of the drive, people met and mingled. The event not only brought together a beautiful collection of cars, but it also brought together many people who were passionate about both men’s health and old cars, making it a great community event.
How has the idea been received by people living in the UAE?
This first event on health awareness really opened people’s eyes in Dubai, where it was held. Not only the competitors but also the local government, like the Dubai Police and the Emirates Motorsports Organization, have been very helpful. We are sure that the event will be even bigger and better next year. We appreciate the help of the people and government of Dubai in making the world a better and safer place.