BLACK BARBERS PROJECT

Mental Health Support From Your Local Barber.

Black Male Barbers Mental Health Project

The Black Male Barbers Mental Health Project started in April 2023. 

It’s aim is to work with local barbers to develop their knowledge and understanding of mental health related to Black men.

Findings

Given the size of the African and Caribbean communities in Sheffield, there are surprisingly a lot of Black barbers.

 

In total, 19 barbershops have been identified across the city with the Wicker/Spital Hill and the Abbeydale Road/Sharrow being the two main areas of concentration. Each barbershop has its unique customer profile regarding age, ethnicity, and community.

 

Barbers are busy self-employed people with precious little spare time. Repeat customers are an integral part of the barbershop business. Barbershops have implicit ground rules and barbers intuitively practice confidentiality both of which act as cornerstones for them being experienced as safe environments for Black men.

Activities

Engagement with the project from barbers, Ranges from support in principle to active participation in activities.  Twelve barbers are part of a WhatsApp in which project information is shared. 

 

Seven of the barbers have been engaged in one or more of the project activities which include the support group, seminar presentations, podcasts, student fairs, and visiting barbers.

Support Group

A support group of nine people, including two barbers, has been established to meet on a quarterly basis over the life of the project.

 

Discussion to date has covered Black men’s mental health, critical advice on Project plans and activities as well as making alternative suggestions.

Seminar Presentations

A series of bi-monthly seminar presentations started in June with a second taking place in August. Future seminars are planned for the autumn and winter. The first presentation looked at Black Men’s mental health whilst the second covered the relationship between Black barbers and the mental health of Black men. 

 

October’s seminar is provisionally entitled ‘Why Black Men Should See a Therapist?’ Although the presentations are open events, barbers have been specifically contacted and invited, with two in attendance to date.

Podcast

One of the above barbers has been instrumental in developing a Black Men’s Mental Health Podcast to be produced and available monthly. September’s podcast is titled ‘Man Up – What Nonsense!’ and features SACMHA’s CEO, David Bussue in conversation. 

Student Fair

On September 21st, the project participated in a Student Sheffield Hallam University Health and Wellbeing Student Fair at the TFC Gym, owned by a local Black businessman, Austin McIntosh. The event had a range of activities, demonstrations, and stalls including a Black male barber. 

 

Around 100 Hallam students were present with a significant number being African and Caribbean students. There are plans for TFC and SACMHA to continue this partnership with future events. A similar event is planned for the University of Sheffield in late October, in which 3 barbers have been invited.

Visiting Barbers

Two barbers have expressed interest in undertaking a monthly visit to Forest Lodge, Low-Security Unit to cut the hair of African and Caribbean men who are patients in the Centre.

Proud

“I am proud of the relationship I am developing with four barbers from Swarv, Fades, and Kivalock.”

 

“I am proud of the partnership I am developing with a barber in setting up a podcast platform to discuss mental health issues and Black men.”

 

“I am proud of my participation at the Health and Wellbeing Student Event for Sheffield Hallam University students at TFC Gym owned by Austin McIntosh, a local Black businessman.”

Challenges

It will be a challenge to get more barbers engaged in the project.

 

It will be a challenge to broaden and expand stakeholders from barbers to other front-facing occupations such as gyms, youth workers, door security.

 

It will be a challenge to evidence the impact of engagement of barbers i.e. more black men talking about mental health and accessing primary care practitioner support for their mental health.

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