Janine Vincent from JD’s Hair and Barber Studio in Romsey is one of five Macedon Ranges barber shops participating in the Cut the Silence campaign. Photo: Paul Rovere.

To coincide with Men’s Health Week this week, a team in the Macedon Ranges is launching a campaign aiming to encourage men to talk about their mental health.

The Cut the Silence campaign features a series of videos of actor and Macedon Ranges resident Shane Jacobson in conversation at a Romsey barbershop with some of his high-profile friends.

The barbershop setting was chosen in recognition that barbershops are a place that captures a broad range of men and have traditionally been one of the few spaces in which men often feel comfortable opening up.

JD Barber Hair Salon in Romsey and Ace Barber in Lancefield are two of five barber shops in the Macedon Ranges to sign up to the initiative, which has included them taking part in a half-day suicide prevention training course.

Sunbury and Cobaw Community Health health promotion team leader Lauren Tyrrell said said the course helped business owners recognise the first signs that someone might be feeling overwhelmed or struggling with their mental health.

Participating barbershops have also been provided with information to guide customers to support services.

“The participating barbers are not expected to take the place of a counsellor,” she said.

“The idea is that they are equipped with the knowledge, skills and confidence to have conversations with others who might be showing signs of not coping.”

The Macedon Ranges has a higher suicide rate than the state average, with men accounting for four in five deaths.

A 2021 research project in area called #thehumancode found that nearly half of those surveyed said boys and men were not comfortable seeking out health services when they needed them.

One in five men said they had experienced shame in asking for help, and over half agreed that men would not be comfortable talking about their mental health before they reached breaking point.

Jacobson interviews actor and comedian Stephen Curry, comedian and TV presenter Tom Gleeson, mental health advocate and Hope Assistance Local Tradies co-founder Jeremy Forbes, former AFL player Matt Dick, and musician Pat Devlin.

To view the videos visit www.mrspag.com.au/cut-the-silence.

If you and anyone you know need immediate mental health help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14; Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800; MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978; Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467; Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36; or Headspace on 1800 650 890.

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