Coatesville Hair Care Professionals Become Wellness Ambassadors in Groundbreaking Mental Health Initiative

Professional Stylist© Pixelshot / Canva

COATESVILLE, PA – In an innovative approach to community health and wellness, six hair care professionals from Coatesville have stepped up as pioneers in a unique mental health outreach program. Through the Our HAIR (Health Access Initiative for Recovery) project, these dedicated individuals are bridging the gap between everyday conversations and critical behavioral health services for black and brown communities.

This Thursday, April 18, from 11:30 a.m. to noon, the remarkable efforts of Our HAIR and two of its newly trained professionals will be showcased on Chester County’s mental health radio show, “Let’s Talk About It,” broadcasted on 95.3 WCHE. The program promises to offer listeners a deeper understanding of this initiative’s impact, with a podcast version also available for those who wish to tune in later.

Under the guidance of Lori Weems, the Program Director for Our HAIR, three hairstylists and three barbers received comprehensive training, culminating at the end of 2023. They emerged as certified Wellness Ambassadors and equipped with QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention techniques. Since their certification, they have been actively engaging with their clients, offering support and resources right from their workstations in salons and barber shops across Coatesville.

Sharon Hardin, a registered nurse and secretary of the Coatesville branch of the NAACP, played a pivotal role in recruiting these professionals. Growing up in Coatesville herself, Hardin has witnessed the toll that unaddressed mental health concerns can take on a community. She believes that changing the narrative around mental health discussions within black and brown families is crucial. “Black and brown families normally don’t discuss mental health, and we wanted to change that,” Hardin expressed, underscoring the importance of education and open dialogue about mental health issues.

The Our HAIR project initially took root in Allegheny County as a pilot project and has since replicated its successful format and curriculum in Coatesville. Participants are trained to recognize signs of mental health or substance use disorders among their clients and guide them towards the help they may need.

This groundbreaking initiative not only empowers hair care professionals to serve their community in a new and meaningful way but also dismantles barriers to accessing mental health services. By transforming hair salons and barber shops into safe spaces for conversations about mental health, Our HAIR is making strides toward improving health outcomes for historically underserved populations.

The community is encouraged to tune into “Let’s Talk About It” this Thursday to learn more about the transformative work being done by Our HAIR and its team of Wellness Ambassadors. Through education, compassion, and action, these Coatesville professionals are weaving a stronger, healthier fabric for their community, one conversation at a time.

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