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Lorain County Barbershops Offered Mental Health Training through the Confess Project


Sep 18, 2023

The Lorain County Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Commission is actively working to empower local barbers and stylists to become advocates for mental health. This initiative was brought to life by the Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Agency, who invited professional barbers and cosmetologists to participate in the Confession Project on September 18th at the Illyria YWCA. The Confess Project aims to reduce suicide rates specifically among Black men, as research has shown that men, especially black men, are more likely to open up and have meaningful conversations with their barbers. Thus, barbers are trained to effectively respond and support their customers in the realm of mental health.

Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the movement has been gaining momentum across Lorain County. Mimi Nelson, the chief operating officer of the Confess Project of America, expressed her excitement about the progress being made and the safe space that barbershops provide for men. The project has seen significant growth in training barbers, with their numbers increasing from about 70 at the beginning of 2020 to 3,500 currently.

Lorain County MHARS is responsible for providing the necessary training and is supported by the Yllyria YWCA, Lorain County Community Foundation, and Lorain County Suicide Prevention Coalition. Barbers and stylists serving the Black and brown communities are encouraged to become advocates, with the mission of reducing disparities in access to behavioral health care, raising awareness, and combating the stigma associated with mental health care in Lorain County. Shaquanna Young, a hairstylist and project ambassador, acknowledged the significant role that hair professionals play in mental health advocacy, as they often serve as confidants for their clients.

The Confess Project traces its roots back to the Social Determinants of Health Summit, which took place in August and brought together behavioral health prevention leaders from the region. Its primary focus is addressing health inequities among underserved and marginalized communities in both urban and rural areas of Lorain County. This is achieved through heightened awareness and the provision of culturally appropriate services. In order to effectively coordinate and collaborate county-wide, the project seeks buy-in and support from other stakeholders and coalition leaders. The aim is to create a unified effort in tackling mental health disparities and promoting overall well-being in Lorain County.

By Editor

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