Today, 10 September, is World Suicide Prevention Day. Every week in the UK, 84 men take their own lives. Suicide is the largest killer of men under 45 in the UK, with 75 per cent of all suicides in 2015 being male.
There is still a stigma surrounding mental health, especially in young men, with many finding it hard to open up about how they’re feeling.
We all love a bit of pampering, even if we won’t always admit it, and there’s nothing better than getting a fresh haircut to boost confidence and feel revitalised.
One barber is taking this a step further, and is striving to encourage men to open up about their mental health in the barbers chair.
The Lions Barber Collective (LBC), created by barber Tom Chapman, is a group of barbers from around the globe united in the fight against male suicide.
All barbers involved have gone through the charity’s #BarberTalk training program, meaning they are trained to recognise, listen to, talk to and advise their clients on mental health issues.
View this post on Instagram
Today is World Mental Health day! Never underestimate the power you hold to effect others. The hair industry has an amazing opportunity to help some of the most important people to them, those in the chair! Without them the industry would cease to be. We need to take advantage of the trust we hold to help others and support mental wellbeing! Thanks to our partners @thebluebeards for this great picture!! If you need help take a look at Www.hubofhope.co.uk For your local resources #TOGETHERWERESTRONGER
“I think that barbers have a very privileged space in society,” says Tom. “We spend nearly 2000 hours a year listening to those in the chair. This provides a safe space that is built around trust and builds a strong relationship, yet very rarely leaves the four walls in the barbershop. This means that those in the chair feel safe to share any stories or any issues without the fear of others finding out. There is a huge level of trust between barber and client.”
One of the key goals of the initiative is to break down the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, and dispel the idea that opening up makes you weak.
There were seven student suicides at Bristol in 16 months. With the help of the @thelionsbarbers we went there to get people to open up about how they feel. #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek pic.twitter.com/DVBgRybqEN
— JOE.co.uk (@JOE_co_uk) May 15, 2018
“We need to keep working towards breaking down the taboo that’s around mental health and try to provide as many opportunities for those that need them as possible,” says Tom. “We need to allow people the opportunity to explain how they’re feeling and to listen without judgement and with empathy. Sometimes that can make all the difference.”
To spot a barber shop that is involved in the initiative, just look for the ribbon sticker in the window. This means that the barbers inside are trained to recognise the warning signs of suicidal thoughts and mental health concerns, listen to what clients have to say and talk to them in a manner that lets them know it’s okay to open up and make them feel comfortable discussing their issues with them.
They are also able to signpost clients to the right resources that will be able to help them.
“If you ask anyone who’s been in the hair industry it’s often been joked that we are also psychiatrists, therapists and counsellors so there is definitely a bond between client and stylist which enables them to be comfortable enough to open up and off load,” Tom says.
THE BLUEBEARDS REVENGE
LBC has partnered up with The Bluebeards Revenge, to create a specially branded hair gel. 50p from every tub sold goes to LBC, allowing them to carry on the fantastic work they’re doing, and train more barbers to help more people.
For more information on The Lions Barber Collective, to find a #BarberTalk verified barber near you, or to sign your barber shop up to the initiative, visit their website.
For more information about The Bluebeards Revenge you can check out their website here.
0800 585 858
0800 068 4141