A new youth mental health initiative, chats and cuts, has launched in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Co-founded by Sarah Todd and Sam Arnold, chats and cuts empowers hairdressers and barbers to ‘connect, listen and signpost’ with young clients during the course of a haircut.
The first stage of the community initiative focuses on four Stevenage-based hairdresser and barber businesses: The Cutter, MADE Men, MADE Women Hairdressers and Kenny Arnold.
At each ambassador business, chats and cuts QR code stickers are displayed on mirrors as well as windows and front doors. The QR code signposting sticker features six supportive services for children and young people in Hertfordshire. These include three chats and cuts partners – leading suicide prevention charity The OLLIE Foundation, the signposting campaign Just Talk and mental health and digital guidance service The Sandbox. There are also links to SHOUT, First Steps ED and Childline.
In addition to this, each of the four businesses will have at least one Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England trained ambassador.
The co-founders of chats and cuts have received substantial support to fully realise the initiative from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England as well as Hertfordshire’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) Commissioning Team and Jasmin Julia Gupta, founder of Cancer Hair Care.
According to statistics from The Children’s Society, in the last three years, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem has increased by 50%. Similarly, recent analysis by the BBC has revealed a huge rise of 77% in children needing specialist treatment for severe mental health crisis.
Sarah said: “As trusted adults and natural listeners, our chats and cuts ambassadors are uniquely positioned to provide an empathetic response. They can give young clients a safe space to talk during their haircuts before confidently signposting to further support.”
Sam added: “Haircuts offer a great way for anyone to open up about their feelings because there’s minimal eye contact. This often makes conversations easier and that’s especially important when it comes to mental wellbeing. We believe that the smallest conversations during a haircut can have the biggest impact on a young person’s future.”
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