World Mental Health Day: The brotherhood of barbers encouraging men to talk

On World Mental Health Day today, a brotherhood of barbers are continuing efforts to fight male suicide internationally.

Although the Samaritans report male suicide rates in the UK are the lowest in more than 30 years, men are still three times as likely to take their own lives compared to women.

After losing a friend to suicide in 2015, Tom Chapman founded the Lions Barber Collective to encourage barbers to initiate conversations with their clients about mental health.

Daniel Davies, 36, a barber and the collective’s events coordinator said: “One client came to us for a haircut after trying to take his own life.

“He was about to tell his parents about his poor mental health, not only did he want to look smart before doing this, he wanted an opportunity to talk with someone neutral before having this difficult conversation.

“Coming to a barbers can be less intimidating than attending a doctors surgery.

“Although we’re not trying to become doctors, we’re aware that for some men, a trip to a barbershop is the only opportunity they will have to sit down and talk one-to-one.

“Of course we want to make people look good, but we want to make them feel good as well.”

The collective offers BarberTalk, a training program which encourages barbers to make the most of their unique and trusting relationship with clients by teaching them to recognise mental health issues, talk about them and advise where clients can seek help.

“There are many barbering and hairdressing shows where members of the collective showcase their barbering skills and talk about their experiences with mental health issues.

“We encourage as many barbers as possible to take the barber talk program.”

The collective also offers Barber Talk Lite, an online awareness program open to anyone who wants to learn more about how to initiate conversations regarding mental health.

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