Hairdressers in Lancashire are being asked to help cut through the stigma of discussing mental health.
The This Stylist Listens project is urging stylists and barbers to talk about mental health and wellbeing with their clients.
Josh Thurston, who owns Gentlemen’s in West Strand Road, said he had received details of the pilot and was determined to help where he could.
He said: “I was telling one of my clients about it and he opened up to me right away and said he had been at the doctors and had been having suicidal thoughts.
“I realised there are people in my shop going through it. He said I was the only person he had ever spoken to other than the doctor.” Josh said he was planning to take part in training, and said: “It’s an hour-and-a-half out of your time to learn techniques on how to listen, what to pick up, what to say and not to say that can make a difference.
“I think others should be doing it. I was thinking about having a day when it was only me here, so people feel confident to come in and it’s just me and them, and if they need to talk they can talk.”
Lewis Smith-Connell, community restart project lead at Lancashire Care, said it could be difficult to approach some mental health services, and said: “You don’t have to be a doctor or psychologist to talk, it is a fundamental part of daily life and by making simple changes in how we communicate we can make a big change to people’s lives.”
Coun Matthew Brown, Preston Council’s cabinet member for social justice, inclusion and policy, said: “We are really pleased to support this innovative pilot, looking to remove barriers that often prevent people from accessing the support they need.”