13th – 19th June is men’s mental health awareness month here in the UK. This is the perfect time to think about what we can be doing as an industry to help protect men’s mental health and ensure we move forward in a healthier, happier space. We caught up with some leading names in the hairdressing industry who are focusing on mental health and got their take on the men’s mental health week and what we can be doing.
Simon Hill, Owner of SESH Hairdressing
Men’s mental health awareness week is a great opportunity for us as an industry to look at what more we could be doing and to learn from each other, too. At SESH Hairdressing, we are always placing focus on mental wellbeing and work with our team to ensure they are cared for and mentally healthy. One of the biggest points to note when looking at men’s mental health is definitely communication and encouraging men to open up and talk about their feelings and emotions. Typically, men are more known for remaining quiet and avoiding discussing their mental health in comparison to females. In 2022, we need to remove this stereotype and there is definitely a shift in this, amongst our industry and wider culture in general.
At SESH Hairdressing, we operate with complete open lines of communication. We believe this helps our team members come forward with any issues instead of allowing it to fester and potentially become more dangerous in terms of their mental health. Ensure that your team know they have your full support and they can access you on a one to one basis to discuss anything at anytime. Little things such as introducing things such as a quiet space for men to take a short break could help to ensure mental wellbeing.
Brian Leo McCallum, Owner of ROAR Hair and Beauty
Men’s mental health awareness week is definitely something to be highlighted and appreciated. However, at ROAR we believe gender is neutral. We are all human and we should all place awareness on our mental health at all times to ensure we are healthy inside too. One of our tips for everyone when it comes to mental health is to always ask your team, friends and family twice if they are okay. In Britain, we are known for asking ‘how are you’ and replying with a surface level answer to gloss over what may really be going on. By asking a second time, you give your loved ones the chance to open up and actually share what’s going on. Try to reduce the taboo around mental health with your team, let them know that as their employer you take mental health as seriously as physical health.
Education is also key when it comes to mental health. I am currently working on an HNC Level 3 on mental health first aid. Knowledge is power so the more you know, the better!
Jim Shaw, Owner of TONI&GUY Billericay and Award Winning Men’s Hairdresser
Mental health is a topic we are starting to talk a lot more about and this is extremely important to help remove the stigma and to be able to help and support people and encourage them to get treatment for their mental health should they need it.
Men in particular can find it harder to talk about their mental health and at TONI&GUY Billericay, where I have a men’s area in the salon, as well as a main salon area for our client’s, I felt it was instrumental to learn more about mental health to ensure myself and the team could chat openly to our clients in a safe place about any mental health struggles they may have and be equipped to support them and point them in the right direction of resources and further support should they need it.
In the salon, we talk to a large number of clients daily and it’s crucial that we are prepared for difficult conversations should they arise and that we can make our clients feel comfortable and space in the salon environment.
Not only is it important to be able to talk to your clients openly about mental health but also your team and this should be a top priority for salon owners. Always have an open-door policy where your team can come to you should they have any concerns or need any support and try to hold one-to-one regular team meetings with each of your team where you can have informal chats and monitor their mental wellbeing.
Mental health training has become more widely available for salon owners and teams, particularly since the pandemic with us having a number of lockdowns where our mental health was impacted greatly. I decided to partake in the MHFA England Mental Health First Aider training to become a Mental Health First Aider in the salon and to help provide me with the skills and knowledge to help support my team and clients with their wellbeing, as well as my own too. The course taught in depth skills for providing first aid to people who may be experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and psychosis and was incredibly insightful. As hairdressers, we want our clients to leave the salon looking and feeling amazing but knowing we have the skills and knowledge to take this one step further and be able to help and support clients who may have struggles and promote good wellbeing is so rewarding.
Anil Salhan, Owner of BLACC + BLOND
Mental health is something that is incredibly important to us at BLACC + BLOND and we take pride in creating change and awareness and we are constantly looking at ways we can do this. For example, during the first lockdown, we innovated and adapted our service to offer clients “Virtual Haircuts” to keep people looking and feeling good when they were not able to visit the salon. All proceedings from this service were donated to Birmingham Mind and CALM, two Mental Health Charities.
We communicate with our clients that if they are suffering from poor mental health, to know that they are safe to discuss such matters when in our store.
Making clients comfortable in expressing themselves is key for me. Especially now in a post pandemic world where humans don’t necessarily socialise or communicate with people as much. I believe it is a modern-day duty for stylists to incorporate higher levels of communication into their service, especially for men, as we’ve been programmed to bottle up our feelings.
When creating our salon, I thought long and hard about how it could promote mindfulness and improve client’s mental health and wellbeing, and this is something salon owners can also be aware of, especially if they are starting up or looking to make changes to their space and the experience they provide to clients. It can be daunting for clients to walk into a pretentious salon, or an intimidating barbershop and that experience is even worse if the client feels like they have been rushed. Therefore, we created a space that doesn’t fit into a stereotyped image and where clients can simply be themselves.
Traditionally male focussed shops or salons would be darker, moodier and quite intimidating. They would have a stags head on a wall and give off an image that if you didn’t have a big beard, drink whiskey and smoke cigars then you aren’t “a real man”. Similarly female salons would be draped in glitter, gold and diamonds and be quite pretentious. Instead, we decided to design our salon to coin the concept of “neutralism” and have abstract and natural aesthetic. We also incorporated the Japanese concept Wabi Sabi, which is about embracing natural tones, textures and ageing processes – to see the beauty in imperfections.
To ensure clients don’t feel rushed we created a Slow Hair Space, whereby all clients are offered a minimum of an hour of our dedicated time. That hour not only gives us the time to get to know the client’s hair and make them look great, but to also get to know the client and build a long-lasting relationship. It allows us to take our time on our clients and focus on the quality of the service we are providing to them.
We also offer an optimum cleansing experience within our space for our clients to fully indulge and relax. Nobody enjoys having their hair cleansed in full public view and our highly considered wash area provides the modern solution to “traditional” salon design flaws. It’s private, intimate and cosy.
Aside from our calming and relaxing space, we have additional touches to further promote mindfulness and good wellbeing within the salon, this includes an aroma diffuser with essential oils, which helps clients to unwind and boosts their mood and a music sound system whereby we play a mix of everything including Somalian Jazz to French House and Hip Hop, as well as our very own BLACC + BLOND – House Party playlist, a feel-good summer playlist.