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To the point: Barbers face unique mental health challenges

Barbers are often unofficial therapists, dealing with their customers’ problems. This puts a strain on barbers too.

A real old fashioned barbershop pole outside of Norcal Louie's Barbershop, 1110 Main Street, Fortuna, California. — Photo: Ellin Beltz, Creative Commons Licence
A real old fashioned barbershop pole outside of Norcal Louie's Barbershop, 1110 Main Street, Fortuna, California. — Photo: Ellin Beltz, Creative Commons Licence

Every occupation has its particular stresses and acknowledging these, as well as accounting for a greater understanding of mental health issues, means that the general public are more aware of things that impact different types of work and the workers that carry out the associated tasks.

When you think of occupations specifically impacted by mental health issues does the traditional barber spring to mind? Thought not. Perhaps this is why an even to highlight the profession has been put together in the U.S. and clearly signalled under the title “National Barber Mental Health Awareness Day.”

This reflects the struggles that barbers endure and also the role barbers themselves play in listening to the plights of their customers, leading some barbers to become unofficial therapists.

In terms of dealing with other people’s issues, it could be that the characteristics of the everyday barber make those who opt to go into the hair salon businesses especially suited for being both a good listener and for dispensing advice. The work of a barber is a frantic, high-energy one and most barbers are creative people. The barbers is also exposed to a diverse array of people, and sometimes the problems they carry.

A survey into the special pressures faced by barbers was carried out by Booksy, who run an app that connects 13 million users to beauty and wellness professionals for appointments. The survey has been issued to mark the awareness day.

In issuing the survey, Booksy are seeking to shine a light of advocacy and support on the mental health struggles barbers may have. Part of the theme is also geared to letting barbers know that it is okay to have an off day, take time for themselves, and talk about their own problems.

Looking at the impact of being a sounding board for their clients’ problems, 43 percent of Babers said they feel like their client’s unofficial therapist all of the time. And 44 percent have a hard time separating themselves from work mentally even when they are not behind the chair.

Those frequenting barbers also notice some of the stresses and strains upon the barber. Here, 26 percent notice their barber frequently seems anxious and 27 percent said they notice when their barber frequently seems stressed.

However, many also benefit from unleashing their problems upon their barber. With this, 53 percent of people feel more optimistic after a visit to the barber. Another benefit was where 37 percent of clients feel a greater sense of community through visiting their local salon.

Moreover, many cite barbers as the profession they are most likely to take advice from, with barbers ranking above bartenders and personal trainers.

Based on these results, the mental health awareness day for barbers is something to pause upon and to show greater appreciation for your local hair cutter.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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