Gloucester barbers trained to spot mental health issues

Tom Chapman

Image caption

Tom Chapman said during his 20 years in the business he had been told “everything”

A hair salon and barbers in Gloucester has trained all its staff to recognise when clients may have problems with mental health.

The Pride Salon is reopening after training from the Lions Barber Collective charity and NHS funding.

It is hoped they can help people who might not normally seek support.

Tom Chapman, who started the charity, said people opened up to them because of the level of trust and intimacy between hairdressers and their clients.

The training helps staff recognise, talk and listen out for symptoms of depression.

Sharon Renouf-Preece who, along with her children, is a customer of the salon said: “If they don’t feel comfortable talking to us then there’s Bex and Cal upstairs [in the salon], always there listening and chatting to them.

“That’s a nice thing to know… that there’s somewhere for them to go.”

Image caption

The salon is now starting to take clients after being closed during the coronavirus outbreak

Mr Chapman, from the Torquay-based Lions Barber Collective, said during his 20 years in the business he had been told “everything”, and used that relationship to start his charity.

“It’s been joked about that we are a therapist,” he said.

“People sit in our chairs and they tell us their problems and it wasn’t until I started the charity that I realised that and took it more seriously.”

Senior barber Alastair Stewart believes a lot of people are reluctant to open up to friends and family.

“I think this training is a key way to spot those warning signs,” he said.

“Someone might not know they’re not OK but you pick up on certain signs that they may need to speak to someone [about].”

Pride’s training manager Jenny Carrigher said if there is a change in a client, “we’d be the people that notice that”.

“It’s quite generic to say ‘go to your GP, get some help’, whereas [Tom] said ‘have a bank of resources that are available in Gloucester’.”