Mental Health Awareness Week is coming up (May 13-19) and this year one British barber is stepping up to help save lives by becoming an ambassador for mental health charity The Lions Barber Collective.
After losing his dad to suicide ten years ago, Ken Hermes, 28, wants to use his newly found job as a barber to help save lives by getting more men to open up and talk about their personal issues. Shockingly, the latest figures show that suicide is still the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.
Ken, from Essex, explains the heartbreak he went though: “Losing my dad to suicide at 15 left an empty place in my heart. If only my dad could have spoken to someone about how he felt. Maybe he would still be here? I want to help educate others to spot the signs of need, and start the conversations that change lives. Working for a large barbering group means that I can pass this education to 100+ barbers and really make a difference in our communities.”
Ken met Prince William in London earlier this year, where he discussed men’s mental health projects. The duke said it was important that men feel they have somebody who listens to their concerns, and compared mental health issues with physical illness.
British barber Tom Chapman set up the Lions Barber Collective mental health awareness and suicide prevention charity back in 2016. Their aim is to turn barbershops into safe spaces for men using the opportunity of a regular haircut to start conversations about mental health. The group is having an enormous impact with men who traditional mental health services can struggle to reach.
Tom organises a professionally run training programme, which is teaching barbers to ‘recognise, talk, listen and advise’ clients and works with the Samaritans charity – signposting the services they offer to clients in need.
Previous research suggests that barbers are in a very unique position to help men in their battle with depression. A survey commissioned by the Lions Barber Collective and The Bluebeards Revenge male grooming brand revealed that more than half of the men in Britain now feel more comfortable discussing sensitive mental health issues such as depression with their barbers/hairdressers than their doctors.
The Bluebeards Revenge has also launched a new hair styling gel, with 50p from each tub sold going to The Lions Barber Collective; helping the charity to raise awareness and prevent male suicides all over the world. The inside of the product cartons also carries branded messaging from the charity, signposting men to the Samaritans charity to seek additional support.