The statistics around male suicide are prevalent in the news and a heart-wrenching subject that employers need to be addressing in the workplace. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the average suicide rate in England and Wales in 2022 was 10.7 deaths per 100,000 people, stating that men made up about 74% of the suicide deaths.
In our latest podcast episode of Real World HR we are joined by Tom Chapman from The Lions Barber Collective. Tom is an absolute trailblazer in the industry, and the self-acclaimed busiest barber in the world has made it his mission to propel the stigma of mental health among men into the mainstream.
After a decade working at Toni & Guy, Tom founded his own hair studio in 2011. After losing a friend to suicide, he quickly realised that the salon and barbers provided a safe environment in which he could openly talk to his clients. In 2015 The Lions Barber Collective was founded, with a group of international Barbers now at its core that educate and raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention.
The Lions Barber Collective has grown into a huge global network, and alongside training hair and beauty professionals they also now train those outside of the industry. The ethos is to give others the skills needed to recognise, ask, listen, and help those in need with their mental health and suicide prevention.
Louise Kennedy, Managing Director, Oculus HR said:
“I am in absolute awe of the work that Tom does and the global collective he has grown. To have the opportunity to discuss men’s mental health with Tom is what the podcast is all about, we want to touch on subjects in the real world of HR which are prevalent.
The impact that mental health has in the workplace, in particular amongst male employees needs to be addressed with the right mechanisms of support in operation as standard. One of the key elements is the power of talking and looking for trigger points with colleagues, then the follow-on support and identifying what employees and employers need to do once they identify any concerns.”
A recent study from the Mental Health Foundation states that “While there isn’t a different sort of ‘male depression’, some symptoms are more common in men than women. These include irritability, sudden anger, increased loss of control, risk-taking and aggression.
Men may also be more likely to use alcohol and drugs to cope with their depression rather than talking about it. They may use escapist behaviour too, such as throwing themselves into their work.”
“A number of these symptoms highlighted from the Mental Health Foundation could be tell-tale signs and triggers which are apparent in the day-to-day work environment, but employers need to ensure the right support is in place for employees who may have concerns and identify these potential symptoms in their fellow colleagues.”
During the podcast Tom talks about the work he does with the Lions Barber Collective, and how to recognise the signs of poor mental health. He also talks about the education we need on how to question and listen to people who are struggling, and then how to point them in the right direction to the help they need.
From a TEDx Talk, to winning multiple awards including one from the Prime Minister, endorsement from HRH Prince William and gaining coverage in national and international television, radio and print outlets, Tom has done an incredible job of spreading the incredible story of The Lions Collective, saving lives along the way. If that wasn’t enough, Tom has even found time to film an Amazon Prime Documentary, entitled ‘The £1.7m Haircut’!
Be sure to tune in via your favourite podcast platform.
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