BarberTalk to Prevent Suicide for Oxfordshire Men

Men across Oxfordshire will be encouraged to talk about their mental and physical health with support from Barber shops who are on a mission to prevent suicide across the county. Someone in the UK takes their own life every 120 minutes, 75% of them are men and in Oxfordshire, 4 out of every 5 deaths from suicide are male (1).

To mark Men’s Health Week (15 - 21 June), Oxfordshire County Council is joining forces with The Lions Barber Collective a charity that raises awareness for mental wellbeing and suicide prevention amongst men. After the death of his friend Alex, barber Tom Chapman founded the charity and trains barbers to create judgement free, safe spaces.

Recognising that barbers are often a trusted confidant and friendly ear to their customers, Tom worked with healthcare professionals to develop a clinically backed training programme – BarberTalk. This will be delivered in the next year to Oxfordshire hair stylists so they can support their clients and communities to feel comfortable to talk about mental health.

BarberTalk uses four pillars to train barbers to help male clients:

  • RECOGNISE: when their client might be struggling
  • ASK: direct questions regarding their mental health
  • LISTEN: without judgment and with empathy
  • HELP: signpost them to local services

The Lions Barber Collective was commissioned to start delivering the helpful and informal approach before COVID-19 and look forward to the reopening of hair stylist spaces, in line with government rules.

The introduction of The Lions Barber Collective is a response to the Oxfordshire Suicide and Self Harm Strategy (2020-24) that focuses on an engagement survey for residents and professionals. The main themes and outcomes from the questionnaire and focus groups include:

  • Male specific support needed
  • Training for professionals, community groups and communities
  • Training for workplaces to reduce stigma of mental ill health
  • Less clinical approach to support e.g. peer to peer group
  • Development of a ‘catchy’ national suicide prevention campaign.

Donna Husband is Head of Public Health Programmes and Chair for Oxfordshire Suicide Prevention Multi-Agency at Oxfordshire County Council:  Everybody in Oxfordshire has a role to play in reducing the number of suicides in the County. By bringing The Lions Barber Collective to Oxfordshire we can focus on our suicide prevention work for men by creating safe places for them to open up and share what worries them - at the right place, at the right time and to the right people”.

We’re pleased to also be supported by the following partnerships, organisations and charity's to promote suicide prevention in Oxfordshire:

  • Oxford United FC
  • Oxfordshire FA
  • Oxfordshire Mental Health Partnership
  • Oxfordshire Suicide Prevention Multi-Agency
  • Oxfordshire MIND
  • Oxford Mental Health Network
  • Active Oxfordshire
  • Achieve Oxfordshire
  • Oxfordshire Mental Health Prevention Concordat Partnership

For more information:

Go to the Oxfordshire County Council website section about suicide, self-harm, mental health and wellbeing  - click here.

Contact Information for The Lions Barber Collective:

Email: media@lionsbarbercollective.com

Tel: Tom Chapman / 07834 599118

Documentary website: www.the1point7millionpoundhaircut.com

Charity website: www.thelionsbarbercollective.com

(1) 2016-2018 combined data from Public Health England, 2017 and 2018 only data from Oxfordshire Real Time Surveillance.