As part of Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership’s Shining a Light on Suicide campaign, a pop-up barbershop with staff trained in suicide awareness support was on hand all day to welcome people for haircuts and to provide headspace.
All the barbers are trained in award-winning mental health support training, BarberTalk. Around 100 people left the station feeling more empowered and ready to talk openly about suicide, many with a fresh trim to boot.
Tom Chapman, founder of the Lions Barber Collective, a group of international barbers raising awareness for suicide prevention, said: “It was a pleasure for us to meet so many of the Greater Manchester public and really address the stigma attached to mental health and suicide.
“The conversations had today have been incredible. People have been so open and shared everything from suicide to their current mental health and the state of the current economic climate.
“Our barbers have all learned the skills and tools to support people’s mental health. This makes them more than just a barber or a hairdresser, it makes them a safe space for someone to feel some support and kindness. Everyone involved in this initiative wants to make a difference to someone’s life.”
Lions Barber Collective staff recognise signs of mental ill health in clients and signpost them to relevant support services. The group helps to raise awareness of mental illness and aims to prevent suicide by creating training that enables barbers to recognise, talk about and listen out for signs of depression.
Timothy Junior Alder, from Stretford, was one of the people who enjoyed a haircut and chat with the Lions Barber Collective. He said: “I noticed the Shining a Light on Suicide sign and I had to come over and find out more. To be able to drop in like this and speak freely is a great help and I do think we need more of these types of places.”
Professor Sandeep Ranote, medical executive lead for mental health at Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership, said: “I am a big advocate of growing the mentally healthy high street in Greater Manchester through initiatives like creating ‘mentally-friendly hair salons’. The Lions Barber Collective initiative is an excellent example of this and the difference that can be made by everybody, beyond the expertise of healthcare professionals. Everyone can play a role in preventing suicide.
“It is said by some that talking about suicide will put the idea in someone’s mind – in truth, it is more likely to reduce the possibility. It really is good to talk and just listening can make a real difference and today was a great example of that.”
Monday’s event was one of a number of activities which have taken place across Greater Manchester this year and is further to the fourth annual Month of Hope, which ran from September 10 to mark World Suicide Prevention Day until World Mental Health Day on October 10.
It raises awareness of suicide by encouraging everyone in Greater Manchester to have open conversations about and play a role in preventing suicide, while inspiring hope across the city-region.
The award-winning Shining a Light on Suicide campaign aims to prevent suicide and provide information to help those bereaved by suicide or those dealing with suicidal thoughts. You can find out more at https://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk.