Hair salons and barbershops are not just small businesses for the Black community but a safe haven. Encouraged by these staples for the Black community, RISE Chattanooga is partnering with mental health therapist and media personality Tabi Upton on a new initiative: Good Hair, Good Health. This initiative aims to equip stylists, barbers, and others with tools to be better mental health first responders.
“RISE is passionate about the mental health and wellness of Black people in Chattanooga” said Woodson Carpenter, RISE Community Arts Strategist.
“We believe that, in order to reach people on these kinds of issues, we have to meet folks where they’re comfortable. Our hope is that our neighbors are better able to look out for themselves and each other after participating in the program.”
Folks already feel that they can come to these spaces for culture, conversation, or just being around a common place. During this three-week program, Tabi Upton will lead participants through a simple curriculum that focuses on open conversation. This curriculum was developed by local therapists and salon owners. Whether clients talk about everyday stress or serious issues, stylists will be given the tools and resources to point their neighbors in the right direction.
“Traditionally, black folk have had to be strong in order to deal with the rigors of American life. Showing vulnerability was considered taboo. Going to counseling or admitting to feeling depressed was often looked down upon,” said Tabi Upton. “Today, this is beginning to change. The more we deal with our issues in safe, loving, accepting spaces, the better off we will be. Stylists, barbers, and others often serve as professional listeners to their customers. Learning simple techniques can support their clients’ body and soul.”
All meetings will be conducted virtually on Zoom on May 3, 10, and 17. Each session will run from 3-4 p.m. Interested salons and stylists can sign up here ( bit.ly/2OVycjY) and join RISE and Tabi Upton for a brief information session on April 26, at 4 p.m. on Zoom.