Should barbers be trained to spot signs of mental illness?

June 11, 2018 09:46 AM

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday suicide rates increased by 30 percent across the nation in less than 10 years.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, barbers are completing training to not only detect possible mental illness but also connect people to resources that can help. A barber school teamed up with a mental health agency to offer the training.

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We know mental health is a concern across the country. Would something like this work in the Rochester area?

Studies show men are more than three times more likely to commit suicide and are less likely to seek mental health help. But at the barbershop, things are different and people tend to open up about everything in their lives. 

Barbershop owner and Rochester City Councilman Willie Joe Lightfoot says the biggest issues in our community right now are addiction and mental health. He says training barbers to help will improve the quality of life in our area.

"If we're trained in a way where we can refer them to the proper help they need, that may keep somebody from going to jail, keep somebody from making a bad decision or could probably help save somebody's life," Lightfoot says.

Lightfoot says he would like to see a coordinated effort between the hundreds of barber shops and salons in our area to get people trained by professionals in the mental health industry. He says the training would not be mandatory. It would be available to anyone who wanted to be trained to help.

"At the end of the day, everybody feels better when they get a haircut, but then we can also give you some information so you not only look better, but we can also help make you better," Lightfoot says.


Kaci Jones

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