East Kent Mind’s Barbershop Project is working with barbers in Thanet, Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay to help them spot signs of anxiety in customers.
Funded through the Kent and Medway Better Mental Health and Wellbeing Community Fund, the project will train barbers to become East Kent Mind Ambassadors and identify signs of depression, be non-judgemental listeners and effective at signposting.
Men are statistically more likely to discuss mental health issues with their barber than with their GP. This places barbers in a unique position to be able to help men battle anxiety and depression.
East Kent Mind will recruit and support barbers as well as supporting clients referred to the organisation through the process. The pilot project is funded to run until the end of March 2023.
Research by a barber collective in the West Country has shown that more than half of men surveyed say they feel more comfortable discussing mental health issues with their barbers than their doctors.
Barbers have a high follow-up rate with hairdressing clients – usually every two to four weeks they visit for another cut – providing opportunities to spot changes in mood or extremes such as too much sleep or not enough sleep, losing weight or gaining weight.
The project’s training will help barbers to recognise these signs and to ask clients how they are feeling, listen in a non-judgemental manner and be briefed where to signpost. Clients identified as in need are given an information pack with details of East Kent Mind support plus other providers and activities such as Head in the Game and domestic abuse support.
East Kent barbers wanting to join the project or individuals aiming to fundraise for East Kent Mind to help expand the project, should email firstname.lastname@example.org