Barbers across the UK have today joined forces to launch a new initiative that aims to inspire men to open up about mental health issues. As hairdressers in England finally reopen their doors to eager customers, barbers from Torquay to Tynemouth and beyond are launching the #OurDoorIsOpen campaign in a bid to ensure those whose mental health has been badly affected by lockdown get the support they need.
This is the latest initiative from the Lions Barber Collective which encourages barbers to create safe places for men to open up and offload, and provides training to empower the barbers themselves to listen, recognise the signs of poor mental health and signpost clients to appropriate support services.
After the death of his friend Alex, in 2015 Torquay-based barber Tom Chapman founded the charity tge Lions Barber Collective to create non-clinical, non-judgmental safe spaces where men feel comfortable to talk about their mental health and can be signposted to support and information.
Recognising that barbers and hair professionals are often a trusted confidant and friendly ear to their customers, Tom collaborated with experts to develop the clinically backed, BarberTalk training programme for hair professionals to support their clients and communities.
The BarberTalk and Hair&BeautyTalk training series aims to arm barbers and hair professionals with the skills to recognise signs of poor mental health in their clients, ask direct questions to facilitate conversation, listen with empathy and no judgement, and help to signpost their clients to the support they need.
Founder and CEO of the Lions Barber Collective, Tom Chapman said: ‘When we opened up again in July, I cut a friend’s hair, he seemed fine when we had the consultation but once I started cutting his hair he started to cry. I stopped and asked him if there was something he’d like to speak to me about. His reply shocked me. He lived alone and this was the first human contact he had had in months.’
“This made me determined to ensure that others in his position have someone they can talk to when barbers reopen in April, while also giving barbers themselves access to tips and training they need to be able to listen and support those who are still struggling.”
‘A barber can see up to 200 people a week. Although majority of the industry will see about 12 people a day and in a post-lockdown world opening hours will be extended to fit in their desperate clients. The hair & beauty industries reach is just phenomenal with an infrastructure that is accessible to most.’
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