GRAMBLING, La. (KSLA) – The stigma surrounding mental health problems is very strong among African Americans, especially men, says Dr. Kevin Washington, director of the Psychology / Sociology Department at Grambling State University.
“Although black adults are 20 percent more likely than white adults to report severe psychiatric distress, blacks are less likely to seek psychiatric treatment for a variety of reasons,” he said, explaining that some of the causes of lack of care for black men include: racism, discrimination , Stigma and distrust of the health system.
Dr. Washington has developed a mental health curriculum called Barbershop Embedded Education (BEE). It’s specifically for black men and was used as part of a mental health improvement initiative in a city in the northeastern United States that aims to improve the mental health of hairdressers who serve the black community.
The results of the study were published in an article titled in September. released The MHISTREET: Barbershop Embedded Education Initiative. The article was co-authored by Dr. Washington, Dr. Nnemdi Kamanu Elias, Alfred Larbi and Erin Athey. Elias, an internal medicine doctor, and Athey, a nurse, are the co-founders of the MHISTREET program.
As part of the initiative, Dr. Washington hairdressers, known as the BEE Squad, to be first responders for mental health problems. He moderated barbershop talks on mental health issues and discussed other issues affecting the black community such as racism, masculinity, and fatherhood / parenting.
Dr. Washington says the study suggests that alliances between hairdressers, health care providers, and the community are possible. Such partnerships can provide black men with a nontraditional platform to share their stories of mental health issues and support one another. Dr. Washington hopes to do similar research in black hair salons in southern cities.
Find out more about the initiative here.
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