As part of our ongoing #MoreThanABarber campaign to raise more awareness and support around men’s mental health and suicide, and assisting CALM with their incredible work in keeping men alive, several of our barbers have recently completed the mental health awareness and skills course, The Workplace MHFA as part of their mental health training. 

The course consists of a mix of group activities, presentations and discussions, all built around a Mental Health First Aid action plan. The intention is for every participant to come away with a better understanding of common mental health issues, knowledge and confidence to advocate for mental health awareness, the ability to spot signs of mental ill health and skills to support positive wellbeing. Upon completion, you leave qualified as an MHFA Champion and we are beyond proud to acknowledge our barbers for their desire to participate and achieve this.

Our barbers are incredibly passionate about the wellbeing of their clients and this course is designed to help them manage wellbeing proactively and minimise the impact of mental ill health on work and life. Our barbers have learned to spot the symptoms of mental health issues, offer initial help and guide a person towards support - potentially stopping a crisis from happening.

Below, our MHFA Champions share some of their learnings and the impact completing the course has already had on themselves and others. You can also find out more about mental health courses for yourself or organisation HERE.

 

Dan Glass, Senior Barber - Murdock Covent Garden

 

What inspired you to want to complete the course?

Two reasons. Firstly, my family have a history of mental health issues with both my uncle and brother suffering badly from mental illness. It’s an issue close to my heart and one I strive to understand better.

Secondly, working as a barber also inspired me to do the course. No one has a perfect life and you hear a lot of stories and experiences (both good and bad) from clients as well those from friends and family. In this job you have a heightened awareness of the of the trials and tribulations of life.

 

What did you hope to get out of it?

Sticking to the principle of being “More than a barber”, my goal was to better understand the causes and symptoms of mental health issues so that I am better equipped to support my clients, colleagues, friends and family through their personal struggles.

 

What lessons/inspiration will you take from it going forward?

There was a great wealth of information and techniques for me to take away but, for me, the key learnings involved awareness and communication. I like to think I’m a pretty good listener but the training highlighted just how important it is to be aware of the early signs someone may be struggling. And if they are, how vital open and honest verbal and non-verbal communication is - to listen without attempting to cure, to provide support and guidance without judgement and preconceptions.

 

Did you take away anything unexpected from the experience?

Actually I did! It caught me slightly off guard how much of the advice and support mechanisms we were taught would impact my own mental health. I’ve since made some key changes to my own attitudes and actions and have already started to reap the rewards!

 

Anthony Komodikis, Head Barber - Murdock Old Broad Street

 

What inspired you to want to do it?

The barbershop has traditionally always been a staple part of communities. So it would be great if we as barbers had the tools to help or offer guidance to the community when they visit us if needed. To add to that, I do think now that as a society we know more about mental health. We realise actually how little we did know, how much more we need to learn and appreciate. It is important that we learn how to deal with people who suffer as it could easily be a colleagues or someone you manage, which can play even more of an effective and influential role on people who do struggle.

 

What did you hope to get out of it?

How to identify someone who is struggling, how to approach them and knowing what can I do to help.

 

What lessons/inspiration will you take from it going forward?

Understanding that as a Manager, how I am with my team can affect their mental health, even if they've never struggled with it before. Also how to identify a client that is suffering and how a person’s mental process can lead to suicide if the right action isn’t taken.

 

Did you take away anything unexpected from the experience?

Originally I wanted to see how this could help me to help my clients, but actually I realised how important and common mental health challenges are on a wider scale. This course was a great awakening as to its relevance in the workplace. I think everyone should do it, especially if you are responsible for managing a team.

 

Joe Pomper, Head Barber - Murdock Covent Garden

 

What inspired you to want to do it?

I have struggled quietly with mental health issues myself, as have some of my family. I felt it was a great reason to learn more about it and try to understand why we feel certain things and how we can realise signs in others who may be suffering.

 

What did you hope to get out of it?

An understanding of what mental health is, how it affects everyone, and how we can deal with it.

 

What lessons/inspiration will you take from it going forward?

To encourage anyone struggling with mental health to talk to someone about it, open up, and that way you can start making progress. To always be approachable to anyone, a quick chat may be all somebody needs to feel better.

 

Did you take away anything unexpected from the experience?

I learned that in the workplace, most absences are due to bad mental health, but disguised as a cold or a stomach bug, because employees are too frightened to be honest and may then be seen as weak. I also got a real urge of wanting to contact friends and family I thought about during the session to make sure they are okay.

 

Charlie Windle, Senior Barber - Murdock Old Broad Street

The one phrase that stuck with me through the course was 'Its okay to not be okay' which is so true. The stigma around mental health for men is real, men shouldn't feel weak if they open up. With this training I feel I gained the knowledge and skills to help or spot the signs of someone suffering.

When a client is in my chair , the chat we have stays between me and the client. You do find clients now and then open up about certain issues and long may this continue.

 

To follow our ongoing campaign with CALM you can visit our barbershops, website and social channels and be sure to search for our activities using #MoreThanABarber.