Improving access to mental health support

Latest on who’s improving access to mental health support

Training barbers in mental health first aid --- NHS improving access to mental health support
Training barbers in mental health first aid — NHS improving access to mental health support

What made me think about improving access to mental health support, you might wonder. While reading Pulse Today (intended for health professionals only?), the following article caught my eye. Barbers to be trained in mental health support as part of £10m suicide prevention plan. NHS England announced a £10m investment in community suicide prevention. This includes a bid to train barbers in mental health first aid.

Research shows that tho’ more women are diagnosed with mental health problems, men are less likely to seek help. They’re also more likely to commit suicide, mainly before the age of 50.

Because men don’t like to admit to having a mental illness, they’re not accessing mental health services, and therefore — they go undiagnosed and untreated.

So, I’m impressed with this bid to train barbers. Where better for men to start talking about mental health?

Okay, I’ll be honest, I’ve never been to a barber. But, rumour has it that men do offload some of their stressors during a haircut. While they might not actually say ‘mental health problems’, they’ll chat about their crappy exes or sh*t redundancies at work.

One of my sources, often asks me what he should do or say to help someone who’s in crisis. Now I’ll be telling him about this training!

This innovative approach got me thinking about who else is improving support systems and moreover, how they’re doing it. So, off I went to visit one of my best friends, Google, who’s helped me with my research many times. And once again, he didn’t let me down.

Better mental health support for chefs

Exhausted chefs experiencing mental health problems
Exhausted chefs experiencing mental health problems

Hospitality Action launches industry-wide mental health survey. Industry charity Hospitality Action is conducting an industry-wide survey into current attitudes towards mental health and stress in the hospitality sector.

Their 2018 survey showed that 46% of respondents had struggled with a mental health problems within the previous 12 months. This industry tends to be male dominated and those figures are what I would expect to see.

Another new report reveals four in five chefs suffer from poor mental health? It said that 81% experienced mental health problems during their career. What’s more, over half felt that not enough was being done to support them in the workplace.

Hospitality Action report that this new survey will help them develop its mental health provision, which includes access to counselling. Additionally, they’ll be able to offer a wide range of resources for managers and staff to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.

What’s new in schools and colleges

In 2017, the Government published its Green Paper for Transforming children and young people’s mental health.

It detailed proposals for expanding access to mental health care for children and young people. These focused on providing additional support through schools and colleges and reducing waiting times for treatment. 

The first Mental Health Support Teams were launched in 25 trailblazer areas announced in December 2018. These included 12 areas that are also testing a four-week waiting time. These trailblazer MHSTs are building up their capacity and capability during 2019. A further 57 sites were confirmed in July 2019, which will start developing 123 Mental Health Support Teams during 2020.

This long-awaited news is music to my ears. Every school, college and alternative provision will be trained through a series of workshops to pool their resources and understanding and to draw up long term plans.

Massive scale-up in investment

Global collaboration and investment needed in  mental health
Global collaboration and investment needed in mental health

Joint release by the World Health Organization, United for Global Mental Health and the World Federation for Mental Health

World Mental Health Day: an opportunity to kick-start a massive scale-up in investment in mental health. The World Mental Health Day campaign will offer opportunities, for all of us to do something life-affirming: as

  • individuals, to take concrete actions in support of our own mental health, and to support friends and family who are struggling
  • employers, to take steps towards putting in place employee wellness programmes
  • governments, to commit to establishing or scaling-up mental health services, and
  • as journalists, to explain what more can and must be done to make mental health care a reality for everyone.

This joint initiative will be hosting a series of events on World Mental Health Day to help increase awareness of mental health issues, break down stigma and bring about policy change.

During one event, world leaders and mental health experts will join the WHO Director-General to talk about their commitment to mental health and what more must be done.

Great, so we’re looking at seeing increased investment in mental health across the world. Let’s all hope they’re not just talking empty words.

Over to you

I love the above innovative initiatives being rolled out in the UK, and wonder what do you think? What’s happening in your part of the world in terms of improving access to mental health support? I love reading about what’s happening in other countries so I look forward to your comments. I also appreciate constructive criticism about any of my posts or about my site in general.


Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

28 thoughts on “Improving access to mental health support”

  1. I love these initiatives. I think here in the states part of the whole ‘defund the police’ train of thought isn’t taking away policing but instead to train-and dispatch-others better equipped in certain situations. A man naked in a snowy street obviously isn’t a danger to society, yet police were sent and he ended up dead. The initiatives you mentioned make far more sense to me and have zero danger of doing away with actual policing but they stand to help a lot of people with mental health in a positive way.

    1. Hey Morgs, thanks for your thoughts. And yes, it’s so different in the States. and I agree, sending police isn’t always the best answer i.e. when someone is psychotic and in distress, they fear the police and become even more distressed or angry.

      With these new initiative I believe that people will get early support, which always improves the prognosis.

  2. The barber thing is really interesting. That would be fantastic to implement in barbershops catering to populations that are even less likely to talk openly about mental health, like Black men or immigrants.

  3. That would be a good place to do at the barbers, because as already mentioned, it will give blokes an opportunity that they probably wouldn’t take elsewhere.
    I just hope it doesn’t become empty words though later after its been a while. Training that someone took, forgotten, making it look like a fad.

    1. Yes, I agree, it’s a great idea for that reason. Also, I hope that it isn’t a fad! The training costs a lot of money and it’s a huge investment. I wouldn’t like to see it go to waste or used as an excuse for 3 days off work!

      It’s too important and I believe that there are lots of good, professional, intelligent barbers out there who will use it appropriately and effectively. The guys I know are looking forward to this training being rolled out.

  4. The Barber initiative is pure gold and makes perfect sense. I have been going to the same barbers for nearly 30 years. We talk about everything and have a good laugh too.

    I participated in a ground breaking report into local government CEO’s (and so CEOs in general) last year:

    As it says, the truth is now coming out into the light from the shadows and key changes are required promptly. I can vouch for how soul destroying things have become.

    So, here’s to what’s essential: truth, openness, intervention (including getting those mental health “medics” in place) education, training and to keep reinforcing duty of care 😊

    1. It is an amazing initiative and I’m glad you think so too. You guys have MHFA over there, why don’t you CEO’s implement some training for yourselves lol.

      Thank you for sharing the article Sean. Wow, stress nearly three times the national average!! Of course changes are needed, before you all have heart attacks!

      That duty of care always carries a lot of weight and if it’s not happening, then heads will roll.

      Great work Sean 🙂

      1. Thanks, Caz. You are spot on – until recently it was that thing about being stoic until it’s too late. Heart attacks have occurred, and of course other things.

        There is quite a bit of work being done in this space right now. And, yes some heads have rolled.

        Even when I participated in the study and telling my stories, which were all recorded, I could here myself thinking I’m almost sounding apologetic!

        Your posts have been timely, because they have been an inspiration and helped me support a couple of CEO’s at the moment. And that’s all I can really say right now.

        Well, it’s Friday and the weekend’s looking great 😊

      2. Yes, Stoicism has a lot to answer for. But, we’re living in this practical world and Stoicism doesn’t help on how to deal with our times.

        I’m glad to hear that heads have rolled and things are being changed now Sean and that taking part in the study has helped open some eyes. Aaaww, I’m delighted that my posts have been helpful and I appreciate you telling me. Yes, I’d love to hear more, when you can.

        I hope you had a great weekend. I’ve just got back from a lovely weekend at my cousin’s with lots of other cousins — don’t tell anyone, we broke the law and had 7 people over for dinner (we’re only allowed 6 people together at any one time). But it was out of necessity — I wasn’t feeling great for the last few weeks and I needed it – lol.

  5. I love the idea of Barbors being trained in Mental Health.

    The hair dresser I go to often mentions about how people feel comfortable to talk while she is cutting hair. Even for that short length of time being able to off load and vent helps people to process their thoughts.

  6. Wow, these all sound like great ideas! I’d never thought about barbers being a force for mental health, but that makes sense. Honestly, it would probably be helpful if classes in basic mental health support were part of most career training. It might help the employees as well as their future customers.

    1. I also think that basic classes would be useful – Mental Health First Aid have instructors who can provide these – not sure if you have it where you are? I think everyone could benefit from these classes. 💛

  7. I really like your beautiful blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon. 🙂

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