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Mental health training focuses on barbers, stylists

Free Lance-Star - 2/14/2024

Feb. 13—Because barbers and hairdressers often serve as confidants to those whose hair they style, they're more likely to tackle topics like mental health and substance abuse.

In recognition of these roles, the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board is offering two free sessions this month to give barbers and stylists a better understanding of mental health conditions and local community resources that can help.

Known as BarberShop Talk and SalonTalks, the events also will provide training to reverse naloxone after opioid overdoses.

SalonTalks is planned from 6-8 p.m.Feb. 19 at Flawless Beauty Bar; 6330 5-Mile Central Park, Suite 402; in Spotsylvania County.

Antaysia Nance, a licensed clinical social worker with Youth Life Services, will lead the training. She helps clients find healthy coping tools and provides a safe space for them to process what's happening in their lives. She has a master's degree in social work from Howard University.

BarberShop Talk will be held Feb. 26, from 6-8 p.m. at Diced the Barbershop, 17488 Center Drive, Suite 3C, in Ruther Glen in Caroline County.

Gary "Trey" Taylor, a licensed clinical social worker and author who specializes in breaking barriers and stigma surrounding mental health care, will lead the session. He has a master's degree in social work from George Mason University.

A former local therapist and owner of Uphold 31:8, Taylor has partnered with RACSB for two years to hold public conversations about mental health, particularly among men, at local barbershops.

At a 2022 session, Taylor sat in a barber's chair for more than an hour, but instead of getting his hair cut, he talked about a different kind of weight men need to get off their shoulders.

"I believe the stress that we endure over time affects us physically, but also mentally, too," Taylor said. "For one, we don't talk about it. Two, we don't know how to talk about it, and three, we might be scared to even say something's going on."

About a dozen barbers and their friends who gathered for the event, at the Gentlemen's Club Barbershop at Spotsylvania Courthouse, agreed that Black men in particular have been taught to "man up" and not talk about problems, said a barber who's known in the community as "Dun Up."

Then things build to the point of boiling over and "that's why a lot of people blow up," he added.

Tony Covert, the club owner who opened his shop for the session, said it's good for men to be able to listen, and maybe even open up about what's happening in their own lives.

"I feel like this gave us a basic intro into understanding how we can improve our lifestyles and help each other out as a community or friends, brothers, just helping each other out, showing support," he said.

More information about the events is available by emailing prevention@rappahannockareacsb.org.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

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