MEN MORE LIKELY TO ‘OPEN UP’ TO BARBER

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - KATIE GUPWELL Re­porter katieann.gupwell@waleson­line.co.uk

MEN are more likely to turn to their bar­bers than their friends when times are tough, ac­cord­ing to a new study. The sur­vey was car­ried out by men’s men­tal health char­ity The Lions Barber Col­lec­tive and men’s groom­ing brand The Blue­beards Re­venge ahead of World Sui­cide Preven­tion Day.

By work­ing to­gether the team dis­cov­ered that, out of 1,726 men in the UK, 92% de­clared they visit their barber shop or hair sa­lon at least once per month.

This con­trasts to the 70% who head to their lo­cal boozer within the same time frame, which high­lights the strength­en­ing re­la­tion­ship men now have with their bar­bers.

The Lions Barber Col­lec­tive, which was founded by award-win­ning barber Tom Chap­man, wants to make barber shops all over the world se­cure and non-judge­men­tal spa­ces where men can “open up” about their per­sonal lives.

Jac Lud­low, who runs Bo­jan­gles Barber Club in Grif­fith­stown, Pon­ty­pool, said peo­ple wouldn’t be­lieve the things bar­bers get told on a daily ba­sis.

The 26-year-old barber has been in­volved with The Lions Barber Col­lec­tive since it started.

He said: “Peo­ple re­ally do tell us ev­ery­thing.

“The thing is you build up a reg­u­lar client base and you form a good level of trust with the peo­ple you serve.

“It’s so im­por­tant that peo­ple open up – sui­cide is one of the big­gest killers out there.

“But hon­estly, you wouldn’t be­lieve the things that some peo­ple say to us.

“Some sto­ries can be re­ally funny, but you get oth­ers that are re­ally sad.”

Char­ity founder Tom Chap­man says the sta­tis­tics high­light how im­por­tant it is for men to have trust­wor­thy re­la­tion­ships out­side of their usual so­cial cir­cles.

He claimed bar­bers are in a “unique po­si­tion” that al­lows them to talk about things with cus­tomers they would rarely dis­cuss with other peo­ple.

The sur­vey re­vealed that 58% of men still feel they can­not openly speak out about their men­tal health.

Re­search also found that men are more stressed to­day than they were 10 years ago, with 62% of those aged 35 or over say­ing they feel greater pres­sure in 2017 than they did back in 2007.

Aspects such as work and the rise of so­cial me­dia were said to con­trib­ute to in­creased stress lev­els.

Se­nior barber at Jones the Barber in Cardiff, Ross Jones said: “Mar­i­tal or re­la­tion­ship con­cerns, serious health and family are the high­est fre­quency con­cerns.

“I avoid ex­press­ing too much of my own opin­ion and never speak neg­a­tively about an­other per­son, cus­tomer or other­wise.

“This al­lows cus­tomers to feel more con­fi­dent in ex­press­ing their own views.

“I make an ef­fort to remember de­tails that cus­tomers have shared.

“This is how re­la­tion­ships are built – by ex­press­ing a gen­uine interest in peo­ple’s lives.

“They feel val­ued as peo­ple, not just pay­ing clients.”

Ross also said this type of en­vi­ron­ment can’t be cre­ated in all barber shops as talk­ing in this way isn’t some­thing that comes nat­u­rally to ev­ery­one.

He claimed it’s “hugely im­por­tant” for there to be places and spa­ces for men to ex­press them­selves, but it shouldn’t be ex­clu­sive to bar­bers.

“But a male-only sit­u­a­tion def­i­nitely helps,” he added.

Ac­cord­ing to reports from the Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics men are still more than three times more likely to take their own lives than women, with mid­dle-aged men be­ing at greatest risk.

To talk about is­sues re­lat­ing to men­tal health you can con­tact the Sa­mar­i­tans for free at any time on 116 123. You can also visit www.sa­mar­i­tans.org for more in­for­ma­tion.

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