How Black Barber Shops Across America Are Helping Men and Boys Open Up About Mental Health Struggles

The Confess Project has expanded from barber shops in Little Rock, Arkansas to Atlanta, New Orleans, Louisville and Indianapolis, to name a few. (Courtesy The Confess Project)

The barbershop has always been a sacred place in the Black community, and now they’re helping reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

“The haircut’s gonna be the one way to make you feel good, but we’ve gotta go deeper than that,” Willis the Barber tells NY1.

Willis is the owner of the Well Connected barbershop located at 66 Rivington St in New York’s Lower Eastside. The establishment’s name can be connected to A$AP Rocky lyrics from the song that put him on the map, “Peso.”

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Well Connected was just a spot to get a fresh cut, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became essential to go beyond skin deep and focus on the local community’s mental health to break past that tough exterior. Willis was with the movement and connected with The Confess Project — the nation’s first mental health barbershop movement — to make it easier for shopgoers to open up.

“That idea was to train barbers to become mental health advocates. Utilizing some of the same skills that counselors use, and while it’s not counseling, we believe these skills can ultimately change our community and extend the lives of Black and brown men,” says Dontay Williams, CEO of The Confess Project.

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SOURCE: Cassius, Bruce Goodwin II

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