ATLANTA - The Confess Project is bringing mental health advocacy to a neighborhood staple.
The project trains barbers across the country and equips them with the skills to become mental health advocates.
The barber will also be able to refer clients to get professional help if they need it.
Lorenzo Lewis, the CEO of the project, said it's an idea that formed from his life experiences.
"As a kid, probably five to my teenage years, I grew up at my aunt's beauty salon. That's where I saw so many people's lives be changed in Little Rock, Arkansas," Lewis said."
He also used his mental health journey and his career in the mental health field to help launch this program.
"Some of these men are going to see their barbers from a kid all of the ways to when they're an adult. They would probably go see a barber more than they go see a physician in their lifetime," Lewis said.
Lewis' goal is to turn that small talk at barbershops into something potentially life-changing.
"When you perform grooming services on someone for that amount of time, you're only going to open up vulnerability in ways that's going to unlock ways for that person to get help if they're struggling," Lewis said.
According to Lewis, barbers are trained in "active listening, positive communication, how to validate a client's emotions, how to reduce negative self-talk."
The goal is to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health, bring help to communities that lack resources, and to people who are not comfortable with seeking help through traditional methods.
"We recognize that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among black men ages 20 to 44. So, we're here to solve that problem," Lewis said. "We're really changing the mental wellness of young African Americans in our communities that would have never happened."
As of now, 200 barbers in 16 cities have undergone training and the project is expanding to Atlanta.
Lewis hopes to train 200 barbers in Atlanta by the end of 2021.
On Saturday, January 23, the Confess Project will be at three local barbershops.
10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Privado Grooming
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. - Legends Barbershop
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Cleveland Barbershop
You can find more information about The Confess Project here.
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