Not Just a Hair Cut; An Initiative


On this episode of Managed Care Cast, we talk with 2 individuals who were essential in the creation and implementation of the Health Access Initiative for Recovery (Our HAIR), launched by Community Care Behavioral Health Organization of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Community Care Behavioral Health Organization

Community Care Behavioral Health Organization

Community Care Behavioral Health Organization and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Plan (UPMC Health Plan) created the Health Access Initiative for Recovery (Our HAIR) to train Black barbers and stylists in Pennsylvania on how to talk to their clientele about substance use, anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention, and how to properly refer them to resources and help. The program provides community members with the opportunity to speak to a trained barber or hairstylist about anything that might be affecting their mental health.

Local barbers and stylists are known and trusted members of the communities they serve, and clients often feel comfortable opening up to them. A recent study on barbershop-based health promotion interventions for Black men, highlighted that more intervention efforts that target young Black adults, rural Black men, mental health outcomes, and that implement peer-to-peer models are needed. Results of this study indicated that barbershop-based health promotion efforts that highlight community engagement and intentional alignment to the gender- and race-based lived experience of Black men probably will result in satisfactory recruitment, retention, and health-related changes among this population.

Another study focusing on using nail salons, beauty spas, and hair salons for health education with Black women found that it would be reasonable to use beauty stylists as lay health workers to advocate positive health education among Black women. Findings from this study supported earlier literature on beauty salons being a satisfactory avenue for health education efforts and interventions among Black women. Additionally, a partnership between community-responsive medical providers and with health educators might also be a way to link salon clients with needed health services and providers.

HAIR Initiative hair pick with concierge hotline

HAIR Initiative hair pick with concierge hotline

Our HAIR is intended to support these professionals as they work as mental health advocates in their own communities.

Joining us today are Lori Weems, MA, program manager of social and racial justice and health equity at Community Care Behavioral Health, program and project manager of Our HAIR, and Curtis Miller, MSW, LSW, owner of Heirs LLC, a barber and social shop, and Our HAIR project consultant.

Our HAIR caters to people of all genders coming to salons or barbershops, and even provides picks with a concierge phone number to provide people with a way to make a connection to needed resources.

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