Stopping mental health stigma in communities of color one haircut at a time

BOSTON — Stopping the stigma around mental health in communities of color, one haircut at a time.

The Confess Project trains barbers across the country to become mental health advocates.

Tuesday, they began training 800 new barbers as part of our “Road to 1 Million” in partnership with Boston-based Gillette.

They plan to impact over 1 million boys, men, and families through the program.

“We’re really training on four areas such as active listening, validation, positive communication; how to reduce stigma. These are core ways of being an advocate and not necessarily being an expert. They can help change the lives of people throughout the barber chair in their communities,” said founder Lorrenzo Lewis.  “Do you think this comes when folks in the communities need it most? Yeah, absolutely. Right now, we’re looking statistically; four percent of clinicians are people of color across the United States. We are in a dire need of peer support and intervention.“

According to the CDC, Black men are 40% less likely to access mental health treatment than their white counterparts despite having a suicide rate four times higher than Black women.

The American Psychiatric Association also found the number of Black males matriculating into U.S. medical schools is on the decline.

View our series on mental health disparities in communities of color here.