Mental health – we’ve all got it. Whether we experience dark times, euphoria or we’re on an even keel most of the time, there’s no getting away from the fact that 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health ‘problem’ of some kind every year*.But it seems the barbering industry, and those immediately surrounding it, could be more affected by mental health than most. According to a Booksy survey, 43% of hair professionals feel like their client’s unofficial therapist all of the time. And 44% have a hard time separating themselves from work mentally even when they aren’t behind the chair.
That’s why it’s so great to see barbers like Mick Phipps and Oran Lasocki (and MB knows there’s a lot more of you out there!) coming up with support networks, open forums and podcasts shining a light on mental health and encouraging conversation.
In their own words they share their stories...
MEET: MICK PHIPPS,
“I’m Mick and I work at MR Barbers Saffron Walden and I launched The PodBarber podcast on 4 May 2021. The concept is about bringing listeners a new format of reality entertainment all centred around getting men to speak up. Why the name? Well, I feel like I’ve been cutting hair for so long and through that time I’ve talked and listened to so many of my customers/friends that I feel I can now boldly call myself the PodBarber!
In the podcast everyday people talk about the everyday issues and traumas which we all have to navigate. I hope to help them build stronger awareness inwardly and I also want to speak to a wider audience about our mental health. In the podcast we also focus on positive coping mechanisms – all of our guests are relatable, natural and they share what helps them.
Personally I think it’s a misconception that men bottle things up. I really think men do speak up and I’ve been witness to this for well over 20 years as a barber. But it’s about time we ‘champion the chat’ and demystify this negative legacy. In the podcast I want to share stories that show hope and I want to show listeners that ‘conversation is the cure’.
My guests come from all backgrounds. To give you a taste I have guests from high performance sports, environmentally-focused food producing communities, people who have over-dosed on drugs, those who have sought healing from spiritual and ritual ancient practices – even shamanism! We’ve got feminists, lingerie models,
National Trust forest rangers, people of various religions and faith, travellers, scientists, doctors, professors, those who are overweight, those who are underweight… the list goes on. It’s been a lot of fun to put together, everyone who’s helped out are like my cartel of kindness.
The one thing that all my guests have in common is that they are willing to talk openly with me about their personal battles and their amazing and interesting lives. I hope to produce stimulating, yet tough, conversations that collectively help people from paying the ultimate price if they ever reach the Mount Everest of a mental health crisis. Some of the stories are about bereavement, suicide, self-harm, depression and so many more tough subjects. But all of the conversations are about hope and positivity too. We help to direct people to the resources that can help and give positive affirmations to inspire. And did I mention HOPE?! Plus we learn loads of amazingly interesting facts whilst going through the rainbow of emotions. There’s tears, there’s laughter but there’s a real sense of positive energy that seeps through the microphone.”
To listen to the podcast visit www.thepodbarber.com or wherever you get your podcasts. Search ‘thepodbarber’ on social media.
MEET: ORAN LASOCKI, FOUNDER OF BEHIND THE CHAIR
“I’m a barber from Aberdeen Scotland, living in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and now managing Barber Barber UK in Spitalfields London. I have been barbering for roughly eight years now, managing to work in some of the best shops and companies in the UK and I have always poured my time and efforts into my work, which I now realise was a cover for how I was feeling mentally. In 2020, during the pandemic, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and high anxiety. I started medication and therapy straight away, which I believe has been a positive step in my journey.
I slowly started to tell friends, family and colleagues about my diagnoses, which sparked a question: “why aren’t there any social or wellbeing networks for people in our industry?”. Which is why I wanted to start Care Behind The Chair. As hair professionals we put on a brave face and leave our issues at the door while we are at work making sure that every client gets the best experience possible, but now this will be a space for us to get together and voice our worries and talk about our mental and physical wellbeing.
‘Care Behind the Chair’ is a supportive network for those working within the barbering and hairdressing industry. Whilst we all focus on supporting our clients and providing a safe space for them to discuss their feelings and experiences of mental health, we rarely consider our own mental health as an industry. I want this network to help encourage informal sharing and conversation opportunities for those who have, or are currently experiencing mental health illness in any form. Through coffee and conversation events held digitally, CBTC aims to be whatever users need or want it to be. As we’re growing I’m really keen to hear from readers about what this network could look like, what potential users might find helpful, and how shops and businesses could get involved.
Our values are below:All Welcome – everyone has a place in CBTCConfidential – when signing up to an event, everyone agrees to respect the privacy and confidentiality of their fellow usersNo Judgements – everyone in attendance will create a safe and welcoming environment for each other to shareSupportive – everyone in attendance will provide a supportive environment to their fellow users.
But I need your help to get this network off the ground, I want it to be created by us and for us. If you want or need anyone to talk to, please do not hesitate to reach out to me on email@example.com or if you are interested in helping and joining the network to help it positively grow.”