Customers often talk about their private lives to familiar strangers, like bartenders and barbers.
Which is why Lorenzo P. Lewis saw barbershops as the ideal place to bring mental health services to Black men in his community. “When a person’s mental health is prioritized, it allows them to become the best version of themselves.”
Today, over 1,400 barbers have joined his mission. Lewis’ nonprofit, The Confess Project, estimates that its barbers reached 1 million people in 2021, and will reach 2 million in 2022. The response is overwhelmingly positive. One study, which interviewed 32 barbers, concluded that Black barbers could create lasting change and help provide much-needed mental health care.
The Confess Project is not stopping at barbershops. It has already begun to expand to other gatekeeping professions with the aim of reaching more people. “With 40 million people needing desperate help with their mental health,” Lewis says, “the model that we’ve put in place can really be translated to social workers, teachers, and coaches.”