Canadian Armed Forces veteran Stephen Clews is looking to make a difference for men's mental health.

This Movember, Aldergrove veteran focuses on mental health

Stephen Clews adds mental illness to movement to prevent men's cancers and suicide.

Men everywhere are growing moustaches for Movember – the annual campaign to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as testicular and prostate cancer.

But this year, Stephen Clews of Aldergrove is using his moustache to focus on a health issue above the waist.

The 31-year-old served two deployments in Afghanistan as a sergeant with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Upon returning home, he watched his fellow troops suffer with mental illness like depression and PTSD, as well as struggled through his own battles.

It was when one of his troops committed suicide that Clews hit rock bottom, and turned to alcohol.

He said his anger, and inability to talk about it, hurt his relationships with his family, wife, and friends.

“I hated my life here, I hated the fact I couldn’t help my troop when he killed myself… I missed the rush of being overseas,” he said.

He sought counseling through the Veterans Transition Network and began advocating for other veterans’ mental health, teaming up with the Movember organization through a grant last year.

That grant sent a him and other veterans to London, to re-enact experiences from overseas on stage for Prince Harry and other members of the royal family.

This year, the group did the same for Members of Parliament in Ottawa, also funded by Movember.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Clews, and other members of performance group Contact!Unload! performs for Prince Harry.

The same performance group is scheduled to appear next year at the Invictus Games in Toronto – a sporting event founded by Prince Harry featuring military veterans.

Having the chance to advocate for veterans in the highest level of government meant a lot, Clews said.

Now, while he studies his second year of nursing at the University of the Fraser Valley campus in Chilliwack, he’s trying to give back to the organization that helped him, starting with a moustache and a donation page.

The Movember movement is also focusing on mental health this year.

“’In the battle against testicular cancer, and prostate cancer, we’re winning,’” Clews said Movember co-founder Adam Garone – who’s also a veteran – told him. “‘But when it comes to mental health, we’re losing that battle.”

Money raised this year will in part fund several Canadian organizations such as the Global Health and Wellbeing Survey, Kid’s Help Phone and the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network.

For Clews, Movember is a way of simply accepting that mental health is a real and serious problem affecting many men.

“(It’s about) trying to bridge that gap saying, ‘It’s okay to first say it’s okay to feel those emotions,’ so we can get you the help you need when you need it to make sure issues don’t get worse. And it’s okay to have a disease – you can’t help it.”


@ashwadhwaniashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Liberal hopeful aims to claim candidate spot in Langley-Aldergrove

Leon Jensen was the 2015 candidate in Langley-Aldergrove.

Backlog reduced at Langley adult day program

Wait list goes from months to weeks

LETTER: Fort Langley driver lobbies for roundabout signalling

ICBC rules call for drivers to signal when exiting roundabouts.

South Langley community group wants to talk innovative housing

Brookswood-Fernridge Community Association invites people to a meeting about the future of housing.

GREEN BEAT: Opening ‘new roads’ in Langley makes cycling safer

HUB Langley pushed to ‘UnGap the Map’ and create more bike infrastructure throughout the community.

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Pedestrian killed, two injured in three vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Road closures in effect following collision

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Most Read