You hairdressers are social creatures who form strong bonds with clients, being physically and emotionally involved in their life events and decisions. With exactly this in mind, London award-winning salon bebop launches a mental health campaign to provide hairdressers with help in the salon, AND push for the inclusion of mental health education in the hairdressing NVQ.
Since going back to the salon after the first Lockdown, bebop’s director Pont Smith and stylist D’arcy Liddle realised the strain that being away from the salon had taken on their mental health.
“We went from working many long fully booked days to suddenly having 3 months off in which we did not know what was going to happen”, Pont explains. “The first week back in the salon was difficult – it was almost like we had forgotten how to do our jobs. We had to overcome a lot of anxieties and face a lot of fears that not only we had developed but also our clients had developed”.
Pont also recalls a particular situation with a client on re-opening: “One of our senior stylists, Anthony, had a client tell him that he was in the last stages of cancer and wanted his hair to look great for his funeral photos. Anthony went above and beyond for him – making sure he was enjoying his time in the salon by getting him drinks, changing the salon’s music to his taste and keeping his experience positive. Once the client had left, I went to see how Anthony was doing in our staff room and I saw how affected he was by it – when you care about what you do, it takes a big emotional toll”.
Hairdressers can go through many emotional situations with their clients in the salon and bebop has realised that hairdressers don’t get taught how to deal with this. “Isolation, loss of income, bereavement and fear are triggering mental health conditions and even aggravating existing ones. Many people turn to alcohol and drug use as a coping mechanism, inducing more insomnia, anxiety and depression. This is why hairdressers need education on how to deal with these situations with clients and also how to deal with their own mental health”, D’arcy explains.
To get an idea of how to start to navigate mental health education for hairdressing, Pont and D’arcy
put together two surveys; one for consumers and one for professionals. These helped them gather the specific data needed to understand what consumers and professionals think about hair industry and mental health.
Then D’arcy attended a two day Mental Health First Aider Course through MHFA England, to get the necessary skills to support her own and others’ well being in the salon. Through this, and using Pont’s educational experience, bebop were able to develop their own Mental Health, bebop’s ‘Hair & Mental Health’ and they are currently in talks with City & Guilds to include this education on the hairdressing NVQ.
bebop’s ‘Hair & Mental Health’ features
- mental health exercises
- in depth consultation training
- positive and negative language guide
- client snd stylist relationship advice
- how to deal with uncomfortable situations, general well being tips and even advice on body language
“We need to make sure that mental health education starts from the beginning for our apprentices, to help give them the skills early on to develop as a hairdresser”, Pont explains. “With everything that is going on now, it is a very important time to share knowledge – our industry can only grow if we all grow together”.
We couldn’t agree more; hair and metal health should be connected through education, now more than ever before.
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