Local barbers receive mental health training
Local barbers are pictured with BarberTalk founder Tom Chapman (back, third left) following the mental health training session

A new team of barbers have been trained up in Havering to help them speak to their clients about their mental health.

The suicide prevention training will equip barbers to have open discussions with their clients and direct them to where help and support are available locally.

In England and Wales, suicide remains the leading cause of death among men under 50.  Three in four deaths by suicide are by men.

The course, BarberTalk Live, is tailored for barbers, created and run by barbers.

It was delivered to Havering barbers by BarberTalk founder Tom Chapman.

Tom lost a close friend to suicide, which led to him establishing the Lions Barber Collective, a group advocating for men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

Since its inception in 2015, the BarberTalk programme has recognised barbers as mental health champions and has trained barbers across the UK. 

The programme plays a vital role in providing training in how to recognise symptoms of mental ill health in clients and signpost them to relevant support services.

Charlie Barrett, owner of Ladies & Gentlemen in Harold Wood, undertook the training two years ago, and reflected on his experience.

He said: "I really enjoyed the training. To be able to recognise changes in not only clients but also family and friends has become a valuable life skill that in this day and age is vital.

"If clients reach out to me with issues, I can point them in a direction that will help them get the support they need.” 

Charlie added: “Just being able to talk to your barber and have them listen to your concerns can ease many mental stresses.

"This is a great responsibility for us as barbers and the Lions’ barber training certainly helped me improve not only my ability to listen to my clients but also to look for signs that they might be experiencing mental health issues.

"I wholeheartedly recommend the Lions Barber Collective training and support their mission.”

Elaine Greenway, Havering’s assistant director of public health, said:

“The training provided by BarberTalk helps to breakdown the stigma that can be associated with mental ill health among men.  

"We are grateful to the local NHS for sponsoring the training, and appreciate all the barbers who gave up their time to attend the training session to help support their clients, families, and communities.”

During the course, barbers were taught how to: recognise mental health issues, ask direct questions about clients’ emotional wellbeing and listen in order to help guide them towards the right services.

Barbers who have taken part in the training will now display a sign in their shops so that clients know that support is available during their visit. 

Published: 14 June 2024