BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A barbershop on Buffalo’s east side has opened its doors for tough conversations, all in the name of destigmatizing mental health and men seeking mental health.

This is a topic that is critical in our community.

It was the first of four installments of “Barbershop Talk” to learn how these conversations are helping.

7 News’ Pheben Kassahun sat down with the community group and the barbershop owner hosting the conversation.

The event was sponsored by the Buffalo Perinatal Prenatal Network, Say Yes Buffalo, Become the Change, Styles of Man Barbershop, Razorsharp Barbershop, Buffalo Fatherhood Initiative and Breaking Barriers.

As well as a neighbor said the neighborhood needs all the support they can give each other.

Cuts and conversations.

That was the goal in Tuesday night’s “Barbershop Talk” at Styles of Man, at the corner of Delavan and Courtland Avenue on Buffalo’s east side.

Styles of Man barber and owner, Hakeem Hicks said, “A pillar in the community where people can come as a safe haven. They have a place to go to besides just getting their haircut. We may be a mentor to them, we may be a counselor to them, somewhere where they can share their feelings.”

Barbershop owner, Hakeem Hicks hopes this open discussion can help break down the barriers of talking about mental health in the Black and brown community.

Hicks said, “Get the word out there to let young men and older men to know there is a safe space. You can find different individuals out there you can confide in, and talk about how you feel and not keep it inside.”

“Many need help and support. A lot don’t even know that they need it, so we’re here trying to help,” Buffalo resident, Dana White said.

A safe space where guys have a dialogue around things relating to mental health.

Buffalo Fatherhood Initiative Program manager Antoine Johnson said, “Suicide, depression, anxiety, how that affects us as men, especially those of us who have families and children, and it can be really taxing for being a provider and showing up emotionally for our families.”

According to the CDC, in the United States more men died by suicide than women in 2021. The data showed about 38,358 suicide deaths among men and about 9,825 among women.

Johnson added, “Part of what we’re doing is de-stigmatizing men seeking support around mental health and getting the support that they need.”

The discussion is timely as we head into the winter months which are often linked to seasonal depression.

Johnson said, “Men do not really open up a lot about talking about things related to depression. Some of the work that we are doing, the underlying work, is changing the narrative around the way in which men relate to and connect with other guys to talk about issues that they’re going through. Then, being able or being more comfortable with seeking mental health related support.”

Anyone who missed the event can attend the next one on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at Styles of Man Barbershop from 4-5 p.m. The final two will take place on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 at Razor Sharp Barbershop on Hertel Avenue from 4-5 p.m.