A barber from Torquay is encouraging others to support mens mental health as hairdressers reopen in England from Monday (12 April).
Tom Chapman, CEO of charity Lions Barber Collective, hopes his new campaign will support men who's mental health has suffered during the pandemic.
#OurDoorIsOpen encourages barbers across the UK to create safe spaces for customers to talk about their feelings and also offers training to barbers themselves, so that they can recognise the signs of poor mental health and signpost clients to appropriate support services.
Tom believes hair professionals are often a trusted confidant and friendly ear to their customers and feels this gives barbers the perfect opportunity to open a conversation about mental health.
He founded the charity in 2015 following the death of his friend, Alex, and he is using it to reach as many people as possible. He was inspired to create the mental health campaign after an experience with a customer in the summer.
Tom said: “When we opened up again in July, I cut a friend's hair, he seemed fine when we had the consultation but once I started cutting his hair he started to cry.
"I stopped and asked him if there was something he’d like to speak to me about. His reply shocked me. He lived alone and this was the first human contact he had had in months.
"This made me determined to ensure that others in his position have someone they can talk to when barbers reopen in April.
“A barber can see up to 200 people a week, especially at busy times like the end of lockdown."
The Lions Barber Collective was founded to create non-clinical, non-judgmental safe spaces where men feel comfortable talking about their mental health and can be signposted to support and information.
It has already trained more than 2,500 barbers through its specially developed and clinically backed BarberTalk programme.