Hairdressing and a Role in Mental Health

How a Torquay hairdressing salon doubles as a safe space for people with mental health issues

Family Barbershop

As seen in a Chicago hairdressing salon, the barber’s shop offers a non-confrontational environment, which enables some customers to open up. Image by Aurimas (Creative Commons License: Some Rights Reserved)

Fact: men are more likely to call into an hairdressing salon than their doctor’s surgery. When you’re having your hair cut or styled, you are (nine times out of ten) likely to break into conversation with the stylist. You may talk about trivial things like football or your next holiday.

The hairdressing salon also offers a non-confrontational environment for conversation. Thanks to the efforts of Tom Chapman, a place to discuss mental health issues. The Torquay-based hairdresser was moved by his friend’s suicide, which led him to form the Lions Barber Collective.

The Lions Barber Collective was formed in 2015 and is backed by groups including Papyrus, a charity which specialises in preventing young people from committing suicide. Other partners include The Bluebeard’s Revenge (noted for hairdressing products), and Domino’s Pizza. In partnership with local business Abel Apparel, T-Shirts are available with some of the proceeds going to Papyrus.

In his hairdressing salon, Tom hosts the Lion’s Den. This is a drop-in advice group for people with mental health issues. They call into his shop in Torquay, discuss their issues, and make friends over a brew or two.

Speaking on The Independent website, Tom Chapman said: “If someone is coming in every week, you tend to get to know them very quickly. If they come in one week it can be very natural to see [warning] signs.

“It’s a lot of trust and intimacy, you are in their personal space, you’re touching their head, ears and neck and not many blokes touch each other like that. It is a real personal, intimate situation.”

Passion Hair and Beauty, 27 March 2017.

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