Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. So it’s time to start talking about mental health.
Men’s mental health charity The Lion’s Barber Collective and male grooming brand The Bluebeard’s Revenge conducted a survey on the issue. They found over half of British men feel more comfortable discussing mental health issues with their barbers than their doctors.
It suggested this is because the trusted relationship between doctors and male patients is significantly less valuable than it was.
Hairdresser and founder of the Lion’s Barber Collective Tom Chapman says that talking about mental health is commonly joked about in the industry. “You’re not only a hairdresser, you’re a counsellor and a psychotherapist. You listen to everyone’s problems and stories all day long.”
Barber or Doctor
Tom says we struggle with people inside our personal spaces. Yet we’re more than happy to let our hairdresser, who is often a stranger, touch our hair — an area usually reserved for loved ones. We then build a relationship with these people. You trust your barber to make you look good. The Bluebeard’s Revenge survey revealed that 71% of men have a good relationship with their barber. One respondent stated:
My relationship with my barber is over 25 long years. He knows everything about me and has become a very reliable and trustworthy friend that I can disclose any information to.
Because of this, it’s important that barbers take the time to talk about mental health and depression with their clients.
As men, you’re expected to be strong and not let people know how you’re feeling. Tom says this attitude is changing. Young boys are becoming more willing to open up about issues they are having. He believes that educating teens about mental health, getting people to talk to one another in a nonjudgemental way, could prevent some people from needing professional help. Tom hopes that by the time his 18-month-old son reaches 18 years, talking will be the norm.
Education and Awareness
Tom lost a friend to suicide, and wasn’t aware of any charities or organisations that help people cope with loss like this. It was something that needed more attention. From that moment onwards, Tom and the Lion’s have worked hard to get men talking to one another about mental wellbeing.
Emotionally open men fill Tom and the Lion’s seminars and events. It’s these people especially they hope to raise awareness about mental health to. They also hope that by educating barbers to recognise the signs of mental illness, and how to talk about it, they can prevent the issue from growing. Signposting men to organisations that can help is a start.