CHARITY FOCUS APRIL – The Barber Magazine
Meet Craig Henderson, the barber who made it his priority to get men talking.
Many people struggle with the everyday pressures of life. We are constantly reminded and encouraged to discuss our feelings. However for some, this is an extremely difficult task.
With the ridiculous stereotype that enforces men to ‘grow a pair’ when facing a difficult time, it’s no wonder why men continue to suffer in silence and feel as though they have nowhere to turn.
Craig believes the pressures on men today are worse than they have ever been, which is why he is encouraging men to talk and open up about those pressures.
“Men are worried about their appearance more than ever, not to mention the general pressures of finances and relationships. If a client is dealing with financial distress, I will happily sit down with him and find ways to solve the problem.” He adds.
Sadly, Craig has lost several clients and friends to suicide, drugs and alcohol abuse, which urged Craig to make his barbershop a safe place for men to use their appointment time to discuss their troubles.
Craig describes himself as an ‘open book’ and has always been able to listen to people’s problems and has always wanted to help them. Craig is completely honest with his clients about his struggles and hopes this encourages his clients to open up.
Finding himself in a position sadly familiar to too many men, Craig adds: ” I suffer from social anxiety, which many of my clients understand. I am an open book and will always tell my clients everything.”
Craig made the decision last summer to create a petition to enforce mental health training to those within the industry. He managed to receive eight signatures, so he decided to turn to social media for help.
He adds: “It all began when I lost a client through drug and alcohol abuse. I just knew I needed to do something. Now that I have more knowledge, I do wonder if I could’ve helped him more.”
Craig posted the petition on a Facebook group which caught the attention of an Ambassador for The Lions Barber Collective. Craig was encouraged to look into the organisation and talk with the founder.
The Lions Barber Collective is an international collection of top barbers which have come together to help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide.
Craig adds: “I looked into the organisation and reached out to Tom Chapman where he noticed an opportunity for me to make a difference through barbering.”
Tom set up the campaign in 2015 intending to teach barbers to listen with compassion and without judgement. Many barbers, like Craig, were given basic training on how to talk, listen and spot the worrying signs of distress in their clients.
Craig is now on a Prospect Program with the Lions Barber Collective where he helps raise awareness for the organisation, and he hopes to become an Ambassador one day.
Craig researched several programs through the Lions Barber Collective to help him with a wide range of his clients dealing with different problems. So far, Craig says the feedback has been positive with dozens of people of various ages talking and seeking advice for their troubles.
Craig adds: “What we are doing is so simple. Barbers always make conversation with their clients because that’s the norm, the process is so effective and easy. As long as you have the knowledge and resources behind you, then you can help save lives every day.”
To make things more comfortable and relaxed for his clients, Craig shares his number with clients.
Craig adds: “My clients can call me whenever and meet me in the pub for a brew, I will always be there no matter what and I will always support them.”
Craig believes educating barbers to notice the signs can help ease some of the pressure on support workers, including the NHS.
He adds: “The NHS are brilliant but overstretched and are struggling, barbers can help massively.
In a way, we work as the middlemen between someone seeing a therapist and seeing a Doctor. If I can help someone in between those visits, it helps everyone.”
If you would like to learn more: www.thelionsbarbercollective.com
Craig’s petition: www.petitions.net/barbers_hairdressers__beauty_theapist_should_be_given_mental_health_training