He is a Commonwealth Games beach volleyball medallist but Ben O'Dea is drawing inspiration from a Tauranga man trying to remove the stigma around men's mental health issues.

In fact, he is so inspired by the work Barter Barber Sam Dowdall is doing that he is looking to get into a "similar kind of field" and is also helping to raise money for mental health issues.

O'Dea has helped organise Hakuna Mama - a unique event being held on Friday night aimed at raising money and awareness for men's mental health while supporting Dowdall's cause.

Dowdall travels throughout New Zealand with his dog Bo, offering men a chance to open up while having a haircut at no charge. All Dowdall asks for is whatever someone can give - perhaps some petrol money, or maybe some food.

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"I've known Sam since high school. He has always been a really cool dude," O'Dea said.

"I've always wanted to try to help him in some way with what he's doing and being able to celebrate what he's doing as well as raising money."

Hakuna Mama is about creating a sense of togetherness among people from all walks of life, O'Dea said.

"The whole evening is about getting guys comfortable and open. Getting 200 to 300 people coming from all sorts of different places and getting them together on the same level."

O'Dea said people could go to parties with hundreds of people but never really feel comfortable talking to anyone. This was the event to change that, he said.

O'Dea, who runs Coalesce Creative, is among a DJ line-up, tribal face painting, Dowdall cutting hair, tattoos and other creative avenues on offer. Ticket sales plus proceeds from live art displays, which will be auctioned off, will go towards the Barter Barber.

"I'm pretty inspired by what he's doing and I want to get into a similar kind of field. I want to help Sam make an impact. It's pretty incredible and we have a big problem here in New Zealand," O'Dea said.

Barter Barber Sam Dowdell is the subject of a charity event in Mount Maunganui aimed at raising money and awareness to help combat New Zealand's mental health issues. Photo/File
Barter Barber Sam Dowdell is the subject of a charity event in Mount Maunganui aimed at raising money and awareness to help combat New Zealand's mental health issues. Photo/File

"I couldn't be prouder of what he's doing. I know a lot of other guys in the same boat. All of us knows someone who has been affected [by mental illness]. To be able to support someone who I think is doing some of the most meaningful work in that field, that's really cool."

Dowdall said it was important to remove the stigma around mental health and getting people "to have that conversation, to have that korero".

"That takes away that intimidation. Even the words 'mental health' are pretty scary for some people," he said.

Socio-economics don't come into play in mental health education but it plays a huge role in people trying to get help. Bartering stops that from being an issue.

"Socio-economics don't come into play in mental health education but it plays a huge role in people trying to get help. Bartering stops that from being an issue."

Dowdall hoped he could help shift the "harden up" and "man up" attitude that was so prevalent in New Zealand and educate communities how they could help.

"It's not about getting in there and fixing people's problems and [leaving]. It's about strengthening the community to be able to help when a person needs it. It's empowering them, giving them those tools as a community to do that."

Hakuna Mama

Where:

Totara St, Totara St, Mount Maunganui

When:

From 8pm

Cost:

$20

Restrictions:

R18, as the event is a licensed premises

More info:

Available online at the Hakuna Mama Facebook page

IF YOU NEED HELP

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.
Or if you need to talk to someone else:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (Mon-Fri 1pm to 10pm. Sat-Sun 3pm-10pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666