Samaritans this week launched ‘The Big Listen’ campaign to encourage and promote listening skills. As part of this, Samaritans volunteers from over 98 branches all over the country have been talking to commuters at 145 station events to share advice on listening.

To support this they’ve also produced a great guide with tips to guide people in listening to their friends, families and colleagues. Their ‘SHUSH’ listening tips are:

1. Show you care - Focus on the other person, make eye contact, put away your phone.

2. Have patience - It may take time and several attempts before a person is ready to open up.

3. Use open questions - Use open questions that need more than a yes/no answer, and follow up with questions like "Tell me more".

4. Say it back - Check you’ve understood, but don’t interrupt or offer a solution.

5. Have courage - Don’t be put off by a negative response and, most importantly, don’t feel you have to fill a silence.

You can download their digital resource on this here.

To illustrate the impact that listening can have, the campaign has partnered with the Tom Chapman who is part of the Lion’s Barber Collective, an international group of barbers who are committed to raising awareness on mental health issues, celebrity hairdresser Verona White, Haircuts4Homeless, an organisation working with the homeless, and Gogglebox star and hairdresser Stephen Webb. Mental health advocates Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn are also supporting The Big Listen.

Commenting on the initiative, Samaritans’ CEO Ruther Sutherland said, “Three times more people die by suicide than from road accidents. Samaritans volunteers are trained to be good listeners, but this is a skill we can all learn. Many hairdressers are naturally good listeners and many more people can learn those skills too. I’m grateful to Jonny, Neil, Tom, Verona and everyone at Lions Barber Collective and Haircuts4Homeless for helping get that message out there. Together we will save lives.”

In October 2016 MHFA England ran a similar campaign on World Mental Health Day, ‘Take 10 Together’, which aimed to get people talking about their mental health. The digital toolkit from the Take 10 Together campaign is available to download here