Tom Chapman is the founder of the Lions Barber Collective, an international collection of barbers who have come together to raise awareness for the prevention of suicide. He gives us some top tips on starting a conversation about mental health with your client, in support of World Mental Health Day and the Take 10 Together campaign.
Sometimes, we all need someone to talk to – and when that person knows how to listen sensitively and openly, it can make a big difference. Barbers are in a perfect position to help men open up and talk about their mental health.
At the Lions Barber Collective, some of our barbers are trained Mental Health First Aiders, with the skills and confidence to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and effectively guide someone towards the right support. With suicide being the biggest killer of men under 45, we believe we can make a difference.
Today, on World Mental Health Day, the Lions Barber Collective is proud to support Mental Health First Aid England in calling on everyone to ‘Take 10 Together’. Check in on someone – a friend, a family member, a colleague or student – and have a 10-minute conversation with them about their mental health and wellbeing.
It might seem a little daunting to start a conversation about mental health but it’s important to remember you don’t have to be an expert. Here are some practical tips for how you can start the conversation.
How to ask the questions
- Keep the chat positive and supportive, exploring the issues and how you may be able to help
- Keep your body language open and non-confrontational
- Be empathetic and take them seriously
- Do not offer glib advice such as “pull yourself together” or “cheer up”
Useful questions to ask:
- “How are you feeling at the moment?”
- “How long have you felt like this – is it an ongoing issue?”
- “Who do you feel you can go to for support?”
How to listen
- Give the person your full focus and listen without interrupting
- Listen to their words, tone of voice and body language – all will give clues to how they are feeling
Once you’ve started the conversation, make sure you keep it going – follow up with the person and ask them how they are doing. Reassure them that your door is always open, and really mean it.
To find out how you can start the conversation, visit the MHFA England Take 10 Together toolkit, which is full of downloadable resources to help you start the conversation and to spread the word about Mental Health First Aid.