Gus | Kaikōura, Canterbury 

“Single-handedly the biggest thing that’s influenced me in my life and shaped who I am is probably when I left school, I first started sort of experiencing and feeling the effects of mental health, specifically with depression and anxiety.

It is genetic in my family. It is on my mum’s side of the family. So, it was always going to happen to me, but that played a massive part in who I am today, because I feel like it’s made me more empathetic and sympathetic towards people from all different walks of life. It’s something that spills over into my work at the barber shop, I suppose because having men come in and sit in the chair, being a single-chair shop, it’s just me and them most the time. I guess my experiences with mental health has allowed me to be able to help other men with their mental health through the chats that we have in the chair, and if I didn’t experience it, if I didn’t have that sort of background myself, I wouldn’t be able to tell my side of the story and maybe tell them something that could potentially help them get through their tough times. It’s made me a bit more curious as to why people are the way they are, because I know that usually if someone’s acting a certain way or, or giving off a certain vibe, it’s usually because of something that’s going on in their life. It’s not actually who they are. It’s the circumstances and the situation behind that, and I suppose mental health plays a big part of that, and because I experienced myself,  it allows me to be heaps more sympathetic towards it,

Kaikōura is my home. I was born and bred here. I grew up on a dairy farm just out under Mt Fyffe here, so the most forward mountain of the range, here. I went to school here. Primary, high school, worked once I left school in town here, working a few different jobs. Worked at the surf shop, worked at one of the bars, and then I went to Christchurch and did sport science for a year. From there, the earthquake happened. I came home and I helped Mum and Dad, and then went up to Auckland and got my barber ticket, and it’s been almost three and a half years since then, and I’ve been home and I opened up a shop and here I am. I guess in my spare time I’m an outdoorsy kind of guy, and I love the outdoors. I love my sport, but I guess most importantly I love people. 

I guess some advice I’d have for someone is just to speak up, because that’s usually the first step in getting better. It wasn’t till I spoke up that I actually got progress with myself. I think that’s the case with a lot of things in life, not just mental health. I think communication and being transparent is huge, being honest to who you are.”

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