HEALTH AND A HAIRCUT: Shawn and Carter Stormann are opening up a health promotion service inside a barbershop. Photo: Charles Anderson.

A cutting solution to men’s health

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A barber and a registered nurse are teaming up to encourage men to seek health advice before it’s too late.

For some time, Shawn Stormann, a barber, and his husband Carter, a registered nurse, have been talking about opening a dedicated health clinic out of barbershop Stormy’s Mancave.

But it was the death of a friend, Bronson Ulu, from suicide, that pushed the pair to ensure the vision happens.

“It was just a kick in the guts,” says Carter.

“Bronson was well loved – he was generous with his time and always asked about you. It threw us all. This has given us a real sense of urgency.”

The pair say that Bronson’s death strengthened their resolve to make a real go of “Caveman Health”.

The clinic will operate as a charitable trust out of Stormy’s Mancave, which is set to move close to nearby Penguino’s on May 1.

Carter says there is a pressing need for somewhere accessible to allow men to feel comfortable in discussing their health.

“As a nurse, I am obligated to think about those who are most at risk and not getting access to services. Men, simply by being men, have a health disparity in New Zealand. We die sooner and if you look at Maori, Pacific Island and South East Asian men, it’s even worse.”

Some reports have suggested that for every $1 the Health Research Council spends exclusively on women’s health, 6 cents goes to men. Carter says, in the United States, there has been a recent study that used barbershops as a vehicle for health promotion and it resulted in an average drop in blood pressure across clientele.

“Barbershops are one of the spaces where the guys feel safe and have been trusting barbers to take care of their image for a long time, so it’s a place where they tend to open up,” Shawn says.

Carter hopes Caveman Health will be a place for all kinds of accessible services and also help men to get further care if they need it – including helping pay for GP appointments.

“No one should have to forego a doctor’s appointment because they can’t afford it.”

He is looking for clinical partnerships to allow him to bring in people for those in need of a higher level help.

“We hope we will get more men enrolled and more men understanding their health and what to do about it. I’m hearing really positive feedback, so I’m optimistic.”

Shawn says the idea is focussed on helping guys take the first step in their health – whether it be physiological, physical, cardiovascular or sexual.

“We want to make sure they don’t fall through the gaps and get the right support.”

Carter says that Bronson’s death drove home how personal the project is and how passionate he is about making it a reality.

“We are men, we have lost people close to us. As a nurse I see men die too soon, with an attitude of ‘She’ll be right.’ But ‘she’ isn’t always right.”

Anyone wanting to help can contact carterstormann@gmail.com