THE LIMERICK barber who founded an initiative to help young men who are troubled by mental health issues, is now rolling out an All-Ireland #BarberTalk training programme after a “positive and encouraging meeting” with the Northern Ireland Minister for Health.
Pat Barry, is one of the co-founders of the Lions Barber Collective (LBC) which operates in Ireland, UK and Holland to support suicide awareness and prevention by encouraging young men to simply “talk to your barber”.
The initiative got under way when Pat joined forces with English barber Tom Chapman to promote the message that there is hope for young men who feel they are not coping with life.
This week, Pat took the project a step further when he travelled to meet the Northern Ireland Health Minister Simon Hamilton and Professor John Barry of Queens University Belfast.
Speaking to the Limerick Post this week, Pat has called on the incoming Government to assist and prioritise mental health issues and support the #BarberTalk
“I met Prof John Barry earlier in the day from Queens University Belfast and we have partnered with them regarding rolling out our #BarberTalk Training programme and a live show tour of universities,
“He has given us access to the students to research mental illness analytics, and tackle the problem in Northern Ireland”, Pat explained.
During his visit to Stormont and the Northern Assembly, Pat met with Minister Hamilton, “who gave us his 100 per cent support. I want people to take note down south, we need to embrace this too.
Pat said that he hopes to tour colleges and universities, “cutting hair on stage, doing our BarberTalk training and helping college students.
“In particular, we want to target first year students and their coping mechanisms for depression and anxiety. We are incorporating each university’s music section to provide music with our show. It’s an interactive event, as we want engagement from the crowd.
“I want to be able to take the tour and the live shows around Ireland and we need Government support to do it.
“Obviously I would like to begin here at home in Limerick which I can see as the beacon for the project if we have the tools to get our messages across.
“I want that for Limerick as we need it and deserve it,” Pat said.
Meantime, the Lions Barber Collective group is continuing to raise funds and work on a #BarberTalk training programme for barbershops and their employees to help identify clients who may self harm or have suicidal tendencies, so they can direct them to the relevant support.
“Men often share confidences with their barbers that they wouldn’t discuss with their friends, families or partners. Some of my clients trust me with the problems or troubles they are having in their life,” Pat explained.
“We are in a unique position to encourage our clients to seek help and help them find it.
The Collective have partnered with Pieta House in Ireland and Papyrus in the UK and their motto is; “Recognise, Listen, Talk and Advise”.
For more, email [email protected], twitter: @thelionsbarbers or facebook.com/thelionsbarbercollective