Men’s mental health and wellbeing a focus for Men’s Health Week

Trigger warning: This article discusses statistics and activities relating to suicide.

Oxfordshire County Council joins forces with The Lions Barber Collective.

In the United Kingdom, a life is lost to suicide every 120 minutes.   Whilst nationally, men account for 75% of that figure, in Oxfordshire, four out of every five suicide deaths are men.*

To coincide with Men’s Health Week, from 15 – 21 June, Oxfordshire County Council has teamed up with The Lions Barber Collective to help raise awareness of men’s mental health issues.

Tom Chapman, a local barber, realised that barbers were often seen as trusted confidents and whenever possible, offered a friendly ear to their customers.  After the death of his friend Alex, Tom decided to found The Lions Barber Collective to help train barbers to create judgement free, safe spaces.

Tom worked with healthcare professionals to develop a clinically backed training programme – BarberTalk, which will be delivered to Oxfordshire hair stylists so they can support their clients and communities to feel comfortable to talk about mental health.

BarberTalk uses four pillars to train barbers to help male clients:

  • RECOGNISE: when their client might be struggling
  • ASK: direct questions regarding their mental health
  • LISTEN: without judgment and with empathy
  • HELP: signpost them to local services

The introduction of The Lions Barber Collective is a response to the Oxfordshire Suicide and Self Harm Strategy (2020-24) that focuses on an engagement survey for residents and professionals. The main themes and outcomes from the questionnaire and focus groups include:

  • Male specific support needed
  • Training for professionals, community groups and communities
  • Training for workplaces to reduce stigma of mental ill health
  • Less clinical approach to support e.g. peer to peer group
  • Development of a ‘catchy’ national suicide prevention campaign.

Donna Husband is Head of Public Health Programmes and Chair for Oxfordshire Suicide Prevention Multi-Agency at Oxfordshire County Council says:

“Everybody in Oxfordshire has a role to play in reducing the number of suicides in the County. By bringing The Lions Barber Collective to Oxfordshire we can focus on our suicide prevention work for men by creating safe places for them to open up and share what worries them – at the right place, at the right time and to the right people”.

(1) 2016-2018 combined data from Public Health England, 2017 and 2018 only data from Oxfordshire Real Time Surveillance.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash


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