These Barbers Are Trimming the Stigma of Men Discussing Mental Health

(Bluebeards Revenge)

Be it lamenting a loss by our favorite team, or speaking in a meeting at work, we men have no problem talking at great length about a variety of topics.

However, when it comes to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, most remain silent, often suffering in silence due in part to stigma and stereotypes still deeply embedded in our culture. Not too long ago, the mere idea of men discussing their feelings with each other would be met with off-color jokes or comments from older generations about how in their day they simply “bucked up and dealt with it.”

The notion that men or women can simply flip a switch or internalize their feelings indefinitely has finally begun to wane over the past few years, thanks in part to social media and the web. While it can also be a place for people to spread hatred, more often than not, the internet is a place where we can all learn that we’re never truly alone. No matter what you may be dealing with, chances are you can find a place on the web with other folks going through the same thing.

But words on a screen can only go so far. That’s why in places like the UK as well as here in the states, a new trend is emerging in a familiar but unlikely place: Barbershops.

Sure, these monuments to manhood have long been a safe place for men of all ages to speak their minds freely and openly, but starting the conversation when it comes to topics like depression can be a bit trickier than asking who you like in Saturday night’s fight.

Building on the established relationship men have with their barber, organizations such as The Lion’s Barber Collective are finding new ways to train these gentleman groomers to recognize signs of personal struggles while also teaching them how to listen and advise.

Founded in 2016 by barber Tom Chapman, the Lion’s Barber Collective aims to make barbershops into judgment-free zones, allowing men to share any mental health issues in a place they’re already comfortable talking. The group was founded in response to the statistic that suicide is still the number one killer of men under 45 in the UK.

Barber Kenneth Hermes, 28, has seen first hand the difference this unique initiative can make. Hermes lost his father to suicide when he was just 15-years-old.

“My entire world changed,” Hermes tells UK media outlet XPOSE. “There was no note, no warning. One day, I woke up and he wasn’t there anymore. It hit me really hard. My dad and I were best friends. We were so close.”

The loss left Hermes struggling with his own mental health for several years, but eventually, he says the experience motivated him to step up and become part of the solution.

“I made a decision that I wouldn’t let my dad’s death be in vain, and if I could educate or support one person, and save one life, that his legacy would live on.”

A recent study sponsored by grooming brand Bluebeard’s Revenge found that a majority of men surveyed felt more comfortable discussing mental health with their barber than they did with a medical doctor.

Hermes believes this is likely due to the unique community atmosphere barber shops have long fostered.

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On #WorldSuicidePreventionDay we want to remind all of our followers that it's okay to not be okay. One of the best ways to cope with your mental health woes is to share them with those close to you. Today – in collaboration with men's mental health charity @thelionsbarbercollective – we want as many of you as possible to tag us in pictures of you hugging it out with your pals. Don't forget to include #hugitout in your post! Let's work together to spread the word that it's okay to talk about your problems. #barber #barbering #barbershop #barberlife #barberlove #barbergang #barbershopconnect #hair #hairstyle #haircut #hairproducts #menshair #menshaircut #menshairproducts #beard #beards #beardgang #beardoil #beardedmen #mensgrooming #mensgroomingproducts #menswear #mensfashion #mensstyle #bluebeards #thebluebeards #bluebeardsrevenge #thebluebeardsrevenge

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“Barbering is one of the oldest trades around, and the type of men that don’t talk (not to stereotype) are quite often not talking because they’re proud. Having a trade that they respect is really helpful,” he says.

Hermes now serves as a brand ambassador for the Lion’s Collective, an organization he knows is just one small part of a much larger movement.

“If we could get all barbers in the UK to offer a mental health service, whether through our training or with other charities, that would be great,” says Hermes.

For those located in the UK, finding a barber who is part of the collective is as easy as visiting their website and searching by postal code. In addition, the site also features a training program that can be completed by barbers located anywhere in the world at no cost.

While all involved recognize that the informal chats are no replacement for medical attention, barbers like Hermes realize that simply starting the conversation can often be a major first step.

“We can make it OK to talk, because mental health is not a weakness.”

Here in the US, similar initiatives are popping up from New York to California, all focused on simply getting men talking.

Lorenzo Lewis is founder of “The Confess Project”, a mental health initiative for men of color.

Lewis hosts interactive 90 minutes conversations called “Beyond the Shop”, which aim to help men confess their vulnerabilities while providing resources to help them overcome their mental health struggles.

(The Confess Project)

“At the barbershop, guys are already outspoken and opinionated, but we don’t tend to talk about self-care and the things that make sure we’re around for our kids and future generations,” says Sam Johnson, a Beyond the Shop participant in Louisville, Kentucky.

In an interview last year for YES Magazine, Lewis said that beyond listening and interacting, he also provides information on support groups and culturally competent therapists. According to the American Psychological Association, Black mental health professionals make up only 2.6 percent of the field.

Thankfully Lewis’ organization and dozens more like it are shifting the conversation and encouraging men of all ages to seek help when needed and to look out for other men in their lives.

While issues like suicide and depression can be difficult to bring up, the alternative can obviously be much worse. These are problems that will not go away overnight, but with so many organizations being formed to address individual circumstances, the days of just remaining silent will hopefully become a thing of the past.

Tennessee Offers Full Scholarship to Boy Bullied for Homemade T-Shirt

Tennessee Offers Full Scholarship
(Twitter/tennalum)

Earlier this week, a story about a university and its fanbase rallying around a bullied student captivated the nation. A boy in Florida wore a homemade University of Tennessee shirt at his school for “college colors day.” He was devastated after getting bullied for his design, which is when his teacher posted about it on Facebook. Vols Nation came through, and the University engineered an outpouring of support. Most importantly, it made the boy’s design an official t-shirt in their shop.

The fansite crashed from so many orders, as Vols fans gobbled up the shirt whose proceeds are being donated to an anti-bullying charity (more than 50, 000 have been ordered). And now the story has taken another turn, as the University of Tennessee has offered the bullied boy a full scholarship.

In a statement, the University said it’s offering the boy “honorary admission” to the class of 2032 in addition to the four-year scholarship. The boy’s mother told University officials the family “has been deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring from people around the world.”

The anti-bullying lesson and its message have even spread to other schools, as one elementary school in Pennsylvania adopted the idea of wearing orange in honor of anti-bullying for their spirit day. The principal was overwhelmed when the busses dropped off hundreds of his students, many clad in their own homemade orange shirts.

And the boy’s teacher updated her Facebook post, thanking everyone around the world for their support. She said it’s been an awesome week about learning to be kind.

“We’ve had lots of discussions about being kind, and I’m really excited to see my students step up their acts of kindness,” she said.

It was a cool gesture for Tennessee to adopt the shirt in the university store, but I feel like the kid has earned the scholarship at this point, at least for all the great press that this story has generated for the school. They might as well also throw in an honorary degree in graphic design, as he’s probably the best-selling elementary school designer in history.

And if you want to join the movement, you can grab the shirt from the official team shop.

Man Brings an Emotional Support Clown to Exit Interview

Joshua Jack with Emotional Support Clown
(Joshua Jack)

What would you do if you knew you were about to lose your job? Sure, you could have a breakdown. Maybe send an email to your coworkers telling them how you really feel? Eh, It’s been done.

Why not take the opportunity to leave on a high note by showing your employer that they’re losing a true asset to the company? A creative thinker who knows how to turn a frown upside down. Someone who’s not clowning around. Recently presented with the opportunity, New Zealand native, Joshua Jack, answered the call.

Upon receiving an email from his employers saying they needed to discuss his role at the company, Jack was told he could bring someone for “support” to the meeting in order to help him weather the news. Being a smart businessman, Jack knew this role would best be filled by a professional.

Jack wasted little time, immediately researching viable options and eventually landing on Joe, a professional clown who Jack hired for $200.

(Joshua Jack)

Arriving in full attire and a blue wig, Joe was ready to stand by, sit with, and console Jack in any way he could. For the duration of the exit interview, Jack had Joe close by — giving both emotional support as well as two balloon animals the performer very slowly crafted during the meeting. “It was sort of noisy, him making balloon animals, so we did have to tell him to be quiet from time-to-time.”

(Joshua Jack)

When asked how management reacted to the tactic, Jack responded, “I mean he was one of the best clowns in all Auckland so they were getting something of a free service.” For his part, Jack told morning radio show MagicTalk “I did get fired, but apart from that it was all smooth running.”

As for Jack’s professional life, the recently canned comedic adman has already landed a new position, hopefully at a place that values his particular brand of expression more than the last.

The Bill That Could Change College Sports

The Bill That Could Change College Sports
(Twitter/FirstTake)

The biggest story in college sports this week was the bill that passed the California Senate, allowing collegiate athletes to earn endorsement money. The governor of California has 30 days to sign the bill, which would go into effect in 2023. The bill could radically change the landscape of college sports.

A story of this magnitude draws plenty of takes, but Tim Tebow had one of the worst ones. He tries to make this about the purity of the amateur sporting experience and about school pride and some other nonsense. It’s an antiquated idea that exists mainly in fiction crafted by 65-year-old sportswriters. These days, it’s tough to argue college sports isn’t big business when the highest-paid employee at every major school is the football coach, usually followed in pecking order by a few other football coaches (and usually the head basketball coach, for good measure).


Most athletes are on the other side of the argument, including one of the biggest stars of all time.


Cam Newton is killing it this season. Sure, not on the football field where he’s had a rough start for fantasy owners, including a Thursday night loss to the Bucs. But he is killing it in the fashion department, where he has no parallel.


It’s certainly more interesting than some of the moves Tom Brady has pulled in the past.


 

Rob Gronkowski gave an interview this week where he revealed he’s had more than 20 concussions in his career. He also said brain damage was reversible, which is probably something you’d say as the result of getting 20 concussions.

Kobe ruthlessly dragged a child in an Instagram post. Coach Kobe was giving out accolades to his team when he mentioned one girl wasn’t in the team photo because she was at a dance recital, so you can ‘see where her focus was’. Coach Kobe, what a guy!

DeAndre Hopkins had one of the best highlights of the young NFL season. The Texans receiver is unquestionably the best at his position, but he showed another level of his game in week 1 when he body-slammed a cornerback.

And in the lowlight of the week, the Panthers-Bucs game endured the dreaded weather delay. And fans handled it about as typically as you’d expect an NFL fan base to respond, with a massive brawl!

The 10 Best Comments of the Week 9/15

Best Comments of the Week

Every week we pan for comedy gold in the comments section of our Facebook posts. If your comment cracks us up (or warms our hearts) we’ll showcase it here!

Here’s this week’s roundup of the 10 Best Comments of the Week:

1. Yippee Ki Yay Mouse Friends

2. Rude Awakening

3. The Roos Shall Inherit The Earth

4. Nothing to See Here

5. Wine

6. It’s All For The Kids

7. Bangers

8. Perfect Vision

9. He Rose to the Occasion

10. Measures Up

Check out the previous edition of The Best Comments of the Week here.

Dad Grades: Harry Wormwood From Matilda

(TriStar Pictures)

We’ve seen a whole variety of bad dads here on Dad Grades. From the axe-weilding Jack Torrance to the criminally inattentive dad from Home Alone, there’s certainly no shortage of substandard fictional matriarchs to rake over the coals. But this one, Harry Wormwood, the crooked, nasty, negligent dad from Matilda, seems to exist in his own category. A dad so cartoonishly antagonistic we’re not fully convinced he qualifies as a dad. Let’s take a look at this slimeball.

(TriStar)

STRENGTHS

Matilda is the story of Matilda, a little girl with a big brain. A responsible set of parents might reign in such intelligence, encouraging them to learn piano and speak foreign languages, Matilda’s parents, Harry and Zinnia, would much rather watch intellectually bankrupt game shows and belittle her.

The film’s premise is grounded in the neglect of its titular character, mostly by her father, Harry Wormwood.

(TriStar)

Harry Wormwood is the personification of sleaze. As such, the movie doesn’t exactly give us a lot to work with in the strength department. You rarely find morsels of good in men who scowl at their newborns from the maternity ward hallway.

(TriStar)

But if we really want to stretch, there is one way Harry Wormwood is accidentally a good dad. Gifted children learn best when they have carte blanche to do so. Studies have shown that, when left to their own devices, smart kids will blossom.

As a young child, Matilda is left home alone all day, despite her pleas to be enrolled in school. She learned to cook her own breakfast.

She taught herself how to read.

Her independence only seemed to accelerate her understanding of the world around her. She was in fact neglected so hard that her intellectual prowess sails right past piano prodigy and landed on telekinesis.

Obviously we’re not suggesting you ignore your child in the hopes that they cultivate mental superpowers. And even if it were possible, the emotional neglect is far more likely to produce a Carrie than a Matilda.

(United Artists)

WEAKNESSES

Harry Wormwood is a rotten man. The narrator (who is, inexplicably, also Danny Devito?) makes this known within the first couple of minutes:

“Harry and Zinnia Wormwood lived in a very nice neighborhood, in a very nice house, but they were not really very nice people.”

Eager to one day hand down the family business to his obnoxious son, Michael, Harry sells used cars, employing such deceitful practices as manually rolling back miles on odometers.


His parenting skills aren’t any less illicit than his salesmanship. He constantly chastises Matilda for being objectively smarter than him, quick to dismiss her a “smart-aleck” in lieu of praise.

(TriStar)

At one point, he catches his daughter reading a book. She tells him she’s enjoying Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Where a good dad might seize this opportunity to lovingly cultivate an interest in the printed word, Harry Wormwood just exclaims

“MOBY WHAT?”

and tears the book to shreds, insisting she instead partake in quality time with her family around the television.

Eventually, Harry relents and agrees to enroll Matilda in school. There are many things a good parent will consider when choosing a school for their kid: location, standards and curriculum, lunch menus. Harry on the other hand? Harry uses his daughter’s education as a bargaining chip, enrolling her only after selling a lemon to the school’s monstrous, tyrannic principal, Agatha Trunchbull, seen here shot-putting a kid by her pigtails.

In spite of routine attempts to murder her students, Harry views Ms. Trunchbull as the ruthless disciplinary figure who will once reign in his unruly bookworm of a kid.

Eventually, Harry gets busted. The FBI finally expose his shady dealings at the used car lot, prompting Harry to pack up and move the family to Guam. Matilda doesn’t want to go, as she’s grown fond of her sweet, exceedingly more maternal teacher, Ms. Honey. She suggests Ms. Honey adopt her, having secured adoption papers from the library at a young age, and Harry agrees.

And frankly, this is best thing he ever does as Matilda’s dad: stops being Matilda’s dad.

VERDICT

One of the worst fictional dads we’ve looked into. Just wholly unfit to raise children. It’s quite baffling that the FBI got to him before Child Protective Services could.

FINAL GRADE: F

Gamers Are Cross With PlayStation’s True Name for the ‘X’ Button

(Getty/Future Publishing)

We live in divisive times and, apparently, Sony is ready to pile on the debate train by casually tossing out information that has rocked the gaming community.

Ever since the release of the original PlayStation, we’ve been accustomed to the traditional Sony controller layout—triangle, circle, square, and ‘ex’—but as it turns out, we’ve been wrong… dupped… HOODWINKED.

According to PlayStation, their primary action button isn’t ‘ex’ but rather ‘cross.’

“If Cross is called X (it’s not), then what are you calling Circle?” PlayStation UK tweeted (not at all condescendingly).

Look, in the nearly 25 years that PlayStation has been around, I have never once heard someone call it the ‘cross’ button, and apparently, the stats are in my favor.

According to a Twitter poll posted by PlayStation (surveying an astounding 168,000+ accounts), a measly 8% claimed to call it a ‘cross’ button.

Fortunately, other big names in the gaming community have our backs when it comes to the ‘X’ button, too.

Xbox went ahead and weighed in on the controversy, effectively throwing PlayStation under the bus with a tweet of their own.

Notice, their console is not called the ‘Crossbox.’

In PlayStation’s defense, though, as Twitter user @SIECrimson pointed out, the spaces between the sticks in a cross are equidistant while those in an ‘ex’ are not.

So, whether you call it a ‘cross’ or an ‘ex,’ it only further proves that there’s always someone somewhere on the internet ready to tell you that you’re wrong. And don’t expect that to change with the release of the PS5.

Dad’s Post About Missing Sons While They’re at College Goes Viral

(Instagram/brandt727)

Facing that empty nest after all the kids are finally old enough to move out is about as bittersweet as it gets. Sure, you’re proud of their independence and your success in raising stable human beings (for the most part) who can fend for themselves, but they’re also your pride and joy and part of you wishes you could hold onto them forever.

This is the exact experience Bud Barber is going through as he sees his three sons off to college one by one.

Bud and the Barber boys had a weekly tradition of heading over the local Dairy Queen for a little post-dinner dessert. Sure, ice cream is great but the real treat was the quality bonding time between all four of them.

But Brooks had to go and make his family proud by going to college (the nerve of this kid, right?), effectively removing a quarter of the Barber ice cream gang.

Of course, to no one’s surprise, the younger Barbers—Bryce and Luke—went ahead and followed in their elder brother’s footsteps, leaving dad to wander to their DQ and sit in their family booth all by his lonesome. At least he had ice cream ready and available to soothe his sorrows.

“With them not here it’s just ice cream,” Bud wrote on Instagram, accompanied by no one and nothing but a proud yet melancholic smirk.

Reading his father’s bittersweet posts, Brooks couldn’t help but share the heartfelt words in a Twitter post, which has since gone insanely viral, garnering nearly 1 million likes.

People can’t seem to get enough of the Barber father-sons bonding time, even going as far as to demand they call it quits with school so they can go eat some dang ice cream with dear ol’ pops again.

Others volunteered to take the boys’ spots so they could finally get some quality time with a caring dad themselves.



Fortunately, Brooks has since reassured everyone that the Barber DQ runs will definitely recommence sooner rather than later, so no one needs to go storming the premises for some “hot eats” or “cool treats” just yet.


All this to say, cherish every moment with your kids. They will fly the coop before you know it.

PRO TIP: Ice cream certainly won’t hurt your time together either, apparently.

Australian Man Charged Man $68,000 for Beer in London Hotel

Peter Lalor's $68k Beer
(Twitter/plalor)

An Australian sportswriter was in a London hotel pub when he ordered a Scottish IPA, which, by his account, was a ‘good beer.’ The question becomes, how much would you pay for a good beer? The final amount? Nearly $68,000 (or $99,983 in Australian dollars).



He told the bartender he didn’t need a receipt after blankly signing the bill. Only then, on a hunch, he decided to ask how much he just spent for the drink.


Lalor wrongly assumed his bank would not process the charge, a mistake he realized when he got a frantic phone call from his wife the next morning, curious about the tens of thousands of dollars missing from his account.


His bank is now in the long process of returning the funds to his account. In the meantime, he’s left with a giant hole in his bank account, and the fleeting memory of what an ice-cold glass of $68,000 tastes like.

“It really is baffling that both Visa and our bank would allow such an amount to go through unquestioned,” Lalor later tweeted.

If you’re curious what the world’s most expensive beer tastes like, you can replicate (the good) part of the experience with a bottle of Deuchars – apparently the regular price of a bottle is far more reasonable.