The staff at Lithgow barbershop Tough Grind have thrown their support behind a fresh mental health initiative.
Not-for-profit start-up Might & Mane is seeking to train barbers in safe conversation, how to recognise the signs of mental illness and encourage men to access services that can help.
Tough Grind barber Adrian Hopkins said barbers enjoyed a unique position as they were able to speak to men from all walks of life.
“It’s amazing how much people are willing to open up… just start telling you about what’s going on in their lives and stuff like that,” Mr Hopkins said.
“Barber shops, driving, golf, anything where men don’t really have to have a face-to-face conversation, they’re willing to talk about stuff more.”
According to its ING Dreamstarter page, Might & Mane “wants to ensure all Aussie men are checking in on their mental health as regularly as they get their haircut”.
“We put our barbers through a 3 hour training session where they learn skills of safe conversation, and about existing help services they can refer clients onto.
“Our barbers aren’t psychologists, they’re regular people encouraging empowered conversations and normalising help-seeking behaviour and they’re an awesome touch point for blokes.”
Find out more about Might & Mane in the video below.
Might & Mane is aiming to train 20 barbers in its first year of operation.
“Our dream is that every suburb and town has, if not, every barbershop is a certified training safe space for men to discuss mental health and access services.”
The Dreamstarter campaign, which ended in November, raised a total of $28,155. Enough money to fully set up and equip a portable Might & Mane van.
The initiative is the brainchild of Sydney woman Gabrielle Timmins who lost her father to suicide two years ago.
“It kind of rung true to what’s going on here in Lithgow in the last 12 months,” Mr Hopkins said.
“It just makes sense for us in that regard for us to get behind it because the evidence is there that there’s something going on in the town.
“People, I guess, can try and put it down to unemployment and whatever but I think it’s a little more deep-rooted than that.
“Even in the 90s I remember growing up here and there was a massive suicide problem here as well back then.”
The staff at Tough Grind are keen to receive the Might & Mane training to help men across the Lithgow community.
“I think getting some understanding on where to point people in the right direction is kind of imperative… every barber shop should get behind it,” Mr Hopkins said.
- Lifeline 131 114, MensLine 1300 789 978, beyondblue 1300 224 636