Millions of people struggle with mental health each year. In an effort to relieve some of their struggles, people look for ways to communicate in a safe environment. And for many, that safe space can be with their hairstylist at a salon.
Lisa Lady Barbher, the owner of Crown-N-Glory Family Hair Studio in Conway, Arkansas, has started an initiative to help create the country’s first mental health barbershop.
Barbher understands the feeling of having a safe space. As a barber, she understands that the relationship between client and stylist “is almost like girlfriend and boyfriend relationship. You’re not going to cheat on each other, you’re going to share different things with each other,” she told ABC’s The Denver Channel.
As the owner of her salon, there are clients that have been coming to her for more than eight years. In fact, many have become family. And over the past two years, she’s made an effort to deepen those connections as part of The Confess Project – an initiative that was started by fellow Arkansas native Lorenzo Lewis.
“We’re taking advantage of a simple visit to go get a grooming service and turning it into an impactful service to change someone’s life,” Lewis said.
Lewis told The Denver Channel that The Confess Project started at his aunt’s beauty salon. He realized how powerful the connection was between barbers and their clients, and he knew he wanted to build a positive culture for young men of color. So, he thought, why not train barbers like Barbher to be mental health advocates?
“I can notice different things with clients now because they teach you to be able to pick up on signs of when they are going through something,” Barbher said of the training she received from the project. She says that the movement has taught her about self-care and how to become mentally healthy.
Lewis wishes he had something like The Confess Project when he was younger. “I went through a list of my own issues, depression and juvenile incarceration,” he told The Denver Channel. And he says that The Confess Project is just getting started. The movement is looking to train 1,000 barbers by the end of this year.
“By doing that work, we’ve now been able to expand to 25 cities, and [realize] that this was a national problem and a global crisis,” Lewis said.