Anglicare North Queensland and Shut Up & Cut target men during mental health week

HAVING A YARN: Shut Up and Cut hairdressers Courtney Johnstone and Jon James give Frank Pitt a free haircut in Miles Street. Photo: Chris Burns.
HAVING A YARN: Shut Up and Cut hairdressers Courtney Johnstone and Jon James give Frank Pitt a free haircut in Miles Street. Photo: Chris Burns.

FREE haircuts offered in front of the Anglicare North Queensland office in Mount Isa was part of a plan to encourage local men to talk about their struggles. 

The haircuts given by Shut Up and Cut on the Monday morning of Mental Health Week had made a difference, according to salon owner Jon James. 

“You get your hair done for real and you feel better,” Mr James said. 

“I have been saying that for years and people just laugh at me. It’s a real thing.” 

When Anglicare asked Mr James if he could be involved in the haircuts he had not hesitated. He said that mental health was a big issue in the local community and that men did not talk or seek help as much as women did.

“It’s about making it more public that it is a problem,” he said.  

Mr James said that there could have been more men in the community accepting free haircuts but that the numbers increased later in the session. 

Anglicare North Queensland’s acting program manager Jodi Martyr said that the organisation wanted to highlight men’s mental health this year. 

”A haircut is non-threatening. It’s something people can engage with,” Ms Martyr said. 

“It makes you feel good about yourself and you know if you feel good about yourself some of the things on the outside start to trickle onto the inside. 

“We did not randomly pick ‘a haircut sounds fun, people would do that.’ 

Anglicare North Queensland's acting program manager Jodi Martyr discusses stigma towards mental health issues. Photo: Chris Burns.

Anglicare North Queensland's acting program manager Jodi Martyr discusses stigma towards mental health issues. Photo: Chris Burns.

“There was a method to that for us.” 

Ms Martyr said that there was still much stigma in the community towards mental health which has limited the number of locals seeking services. It meant many issues remained undiagnosed.

“Stigma is something that I believe is fear based. It’s something (when) people don’t understand, they disconnect or disengage or are inclusive of people who identify with having a mental health issue,” she said.

“We hear all the time that people don’t access mental health services because they don’t want their employer to find out because then it comes with this label.” 

Ms Martyr said the haircuts were a way of showing people in the community they have not been forgotten about. They could see the humanity behind the service providers. 

“Then it might just have a bit of a softer entry for people to access services when they need to. By having an event like this they have access to us without coming out and saying they have mental health issues.