Ramsgate-based East Kent Mind is signing up Thanet barbers to become Ambassadors of the charity.
The barbers, who receive training, identify signs of depression, are non-judgemental listeners and effective at signposting to where extra help is available.
So far seven barbers from five barber shops have agreed to champion the initiative. These include F&S Barbers in Minster, Old Town Barbers and Golden Barbers in Margate, The Gents Lodge and Jaxs Barbers in Broadstairs.
Project manager Simon Dolby said: “Men are statistically more likely to discuss mental health issues with their barber than with their GP. This places barbers in a unique position to be able to help men battle anxiety and depression.
“This project aims to make barbers feel more confident about having conversations about mental health and more informed about who to refer customers on to for support.”
Barbers have a high follow-up rate with hairdressing clients – usually every four weeks they visit for another cut – providing opportunities to spot changes in mood or extremes such as too much sleep or not enough sleep, losing weight or gaining weight.
The project’s training will help barbers to recognise these signs and to ask clients how they are feeling, listen in a non-judgemental manner and be briefed where to signpost. Clients identified as in need are given information with details of East Kent Mind support plus other providers.
Caption: Spencer Strong and Luke Ballantyne from F&S Barbers of Minster launch the Barbershop Project in Thanet