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Local Barbers Receive Mental Health Training In Bid To Reduce Male Suicide

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Across North Wales, barbers – including Kai’s Barbers in Bangor – will be given help to assist in saving
lives while giving a ‘short back and sides’ as part of a new drive to raise awareness of men’s mental
health and the male suicide rate.
Hairdressers across the region are set to receive training in spotting warning signs of mental health
issues in their customers, along with practice guidance on how to listen, give helpful advice, and
signpost to support services.
Having been launched on International Men’s Day (19 November), the initiative aims to raise
awareness of the tragedy of male suicide, which is the biggest killer of men under 45 in North Wales,
and across the UK. Statistics show that men are three times more likely to take their own lives as
women, with males accounting for 75% of all suicides in the UK.
The training is being supported by NHS Charity, Awyr Las’ I CAN campaign, that aims to tackle stigma
and encourage people to be more open about mental health. It is being led by Local Implementation
Teams which include representatives from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, local authorities
and mental health charities, who are working together to implement North Wales’ first integrated
mental health strategy.
The cause is close to the heart of Mahir Soylu, a Denbighshire barber, who says that barber shops
have an important role to play in supporting men who are struggling with their mental health.
Since opening LL19 Barbers in Prestatyn two years ago, Soylu has used his own experience of
suffering with stress, anxiety and low self-esteem to help others.
“Barber shops provide a safe space for men to open up about how they’re feeling” he explained.
“I’ve had people crying in my chair. Simply asking people how they are and how they’re doing can
make all the difference. I don’t often have the answers, but I know I can make an impact by just
listening.
I think the training programme is a fantastic idea. It will give me a better insight into what it’s like to
live with certain conditions and how I can help them.”
Kai Hough, owner of Kai’s Barbers in Bangor, commented:
“Men know and trust their barbers and because it’s a chilled out environment they feel like they can
open up and talk about their problems. It’s great to get something being done about men’s mental
health. I’m hoping to learn more about coping strategies and get more general awareness of mental
health and how we can help people.”
Sam Watson, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Head of Mental Health Service for North
West Wales, said the training drive would complement work that is taking place across the region to
improve mental health support.
“There have been a number of successful initiatives to encourage people to talk about their mental
health, but it’s also vital that people have the skills to listen effectively and provide helpful advice.

We’re working hard to improve the mental health services we provide, but we also recognise the
crucial role that people in communities across North Wales can play in supporting each other.”
The training programme is set to be rolled out more widely next year and Betsi Cadwaladr University
Health Board are encouraging anybody interested in getting involved to register an interest by
contacting them at bcu.info@wales.nhs.uk
The free and confidential C.A.L.L Mental Health Helpline is available 24/7 to provide emotional
support and signposting to local services. Call 0800 132 737, text ‘Help’ to 81066, or visit www.callhelpline.org.uk

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Darby Higgins

News Editor | 19-20 Secretary | 19-20

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