Training for barbers to spot warning signs of mental health problem

Barbers are being taught to spot the warning signs of mental health issues as part of local schemes to help prevent suicides in England.

The BarberTalk scheme, which is backed by grassroots groups in Greater Manchester who saw that men spend more time with their barber than their GP, gives barbers the skills to spot signs that someone may be struggling and ways to help them.

It is part of a £10 million package in which local NHS, public health teams and voluntary organisations are helping to bolster suicide prevention plans and give practical and emotional support to grieving friends and family.

NHS England said that £8 million will go into suicide prevention schemes across 30 local areas during the 2020/21 financial year, while the rest is earmarked to help provide bereavement support.

It could come with the offer of one-to-one sessions with trained volunteers or counsellors, group support or being helped to contact specialist mental health services.

Up to 40 barbers will be given training online as part of BarberTalk, which is being run by the mental health and suicide prevention charity The Lions Barber Collective.

NHS national director for mental health Claire Murdoch said: “Every death by suicide is a tragedy for the person, their family and friends – with countless lives devastated as a result, which is why we continue to expand access to mental health care, including offering help from different and convenient community locations, and are working around the clock to support people through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.”

The funding is aimed at ensuring there is appropriate suicide prevention programmes suicide bereavement support services across the country, she said.

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