We recently hosted a live discussion with #MWIT19 Award for Innovation winner and founder of The Lions Barbers Collective, Tom Chapman. The topics on the table? Mental health, the UK’s devastating male suicide statistics, making a difference, and how we can all maintain a healthy outlook in this time of stress and uncertainty.⠀
While the spotlight is very much on the nation’s physical health, pandemic or no pandemic, looking after our mental health is always equally important. Tom Chapman founded of The Lions Barber Collective in September 2015, to help raise awareness for suicide prevention. You can find the full interview on IGTV here.
Tom is also the winner of the 2019 Most Wanted Innovation award, he said on winning: “To everyone that says ‘I’m just a hairdresser’ – we are so much more. Hairdressers listen to 2,000 hours of talking a year. We are the front line. We are fighting to save lives. We need that confidence to help those people in the chair. We want to get mental health into the curriculum. Let’s do this together and let’s look after the clients in our chair.”
Speaking from his car while he escapes his two young children fresh from nap time, the barber talks about why hair professionals could be using this time to learn some life-saving skills.
“Before we set up The Lion Barbers Collective I lost a friend to suicide and I was completely unaware of what was going on inside his head.
“I didn’t even know there were suicide prevention charities or suicide bereavement facilities. After speaking about it it got me thinking that there as hairdressers we have a prime opportunity to speak to our clients in a safe space. You never hear someone say – ‘I can’t wait to see my therapist’ – but people do look forward to going to the barbers and hairdressers.
“In the UK, the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide. It accounts for 75 per cent of all male deaths. I established The Lions Barber Collective with the aim of raising awareness of men’s mental health and helping identify signs in clients.”
Tom’s courses have been developed with the help of psychiatrist Peter Aitken. Originally lasting two days, it has been streamlined and perfected to just four to five hours.
The four pillars of the teaching cover:
Recognise – understanding and recognising the signs of worries in clients.
Ask – knowing the right questions and how to ask them.
Listening – actively listening to your clients with empathy and without judgement. You don’t have to fix their problems, just listen.
Help – knowing the right resources to offer people that will benefit them.
Also in attendance was one of the organisation’s ambassadors, Dan Davies from Pall Mall Barbers, to find out more about how his clients have responded to the initiative, and to discuss why there’s never been a better time to join the ‘pride’.
Tom went on to talk about the Lion’s new app – Barber Talk, that has loads of information to guide hairdressers.
He said: “Hairdressers are constantly on our phones – it’s become an essential part of our kit! It’s our marketing tool. Something I never thought I would say!
“It’s available on Google Play and the Apple Store, it’s completely free. It has a safe space forum that’s designed so we can talk about anything and everything. Industry, emotional, anything you like.
“It has the Barber Talk training, which takes you straight to our education and you can watch the videos as many times as you want. So far we’ve had 250 hairdressers sign up. There’s a sleep aid and directions to Hub of Hope.”
Finally, Tom touched on some of the ways we can keep ourselves positive at the moment while in lockdown.
He said: “As an industry we’re always learning, and at the moment there’s loads of free education so it’s a great time to teach yourself something new.
“Drop off a care package to a friend who might need it. It will help you and them!
“Try practising mindfulness. A lot of people think that it has to be meditation or sitting crossed legged on the floor, but it’s really about just being in the moment and really thinking about what you’re doing.”
Watch the full interview on the Creative HEAD Magazine IGTV here.