It’s no secret that hairdressing can be an intense and challenging industry to work in, which is why considering the mental health of apprentices is crucial. This level of stress can often be quite surprising to those just starting in the industry, so it's important to check in on your newbies! We spoke to salon owners and apprentices for their advice on how to help with anxiety and mental health issues.
Laura Geary, the Chief People Officer for Headmasters, tells us the overall well-being of the team is extremely important. “Headmasters take great pride in being equipped to help guide and get our employees the right medical help. Together, we can achieve a healthy mentality.” She has also shared four small things salons can do to ensure apprentices are looked out for and a 'healthy mentality' is maintained.
- Set up a direct, private line of contact: "Headmasters have a discreet and confidential mental health support team email address, where team members provide advice and guidance in getting the appropriate support and help from local and accredited charities."
- Have professionals on-hand: "We have qualified mental health first aiders. Headmasters started this pioneering mental health first aiders (MHFA) initiative in 2018 with an aim to help stop the stigma that surrounds mental health and build a supportive culture for all apprentices and stylists in the Headmasters workplace."
- Educate those higher up: "Headmasters offer training to managers, including mental health awareness and safeguarding, to help craft a better understanding and to encourage support and confidence in helping anyone suffering from ill mental health."
- Promote positivity: "Headmasters also share how to have a happy, healthy mind in team meetings, on our bespoke Facebook team page, and in all of our courses. Headmasters’ mental health policy lets all team members know that we are committed to supporting them with regards to mental health, and that we will continue to do so."
Heffy Wheeler tells us that having a mental healthy policy is an important step to supporting apprentice's mental health:“At Hx Hair we consider mental health as important as physical health and I think that every boss should. I’m open and honest with my staff and if they’re having a bad mental health day it’s treated the same as any other illness. The role of an apprentice can often be overwhelming, especially because you put on various hats."
Heffy believes it is a boss's responsibility to make sure apprentices take their breaks and that they’re eating too: "I want them to feel like a valued member of the team by involving them in what I’m doing whether that's working on clients in the salon or on projects from brands. Making sure that they’ve got exciting opportunities and they’re not just doing the 'boring' jobs, because it needs to be a learning experience for them and this really helps with their motivation."
Picking up on signs is also key to running a happy, healthy team: "If someone comes in to the salon and they’re late, or they come in looking a bit scruffy or not quite themselves, we have created an open door policy so they know they can come to me with everything. Everyone has bad days and mental health should be a priority and treated like any other illness.”
Tom Chapman, Barber, Educator and founder of the Lions Barber Collective charity, tells us that barbers and hairdressers also go unnoticed as the nation's listeners. "If you're a therapist you have to have a therapist but who listens to the barbers and hairdressers? We need to make sure that we are offloading whether that's to friends, family or through buddying up systems until we can get something in place that is specific to our industry."
For a lot of apprentices and juniors entering the industry the role that they play in society isn't front of mind says Tom: "When I started out, my manager said to be 'Be prepared to be a therapist as well' - I had no idea what he was talking about, but it became clear very quickly. People were talking to me about the menopause, miscarriages, affairs and divorces, and I was unprepared for that. This is why I am working on putting our training into the college curriculum so that hairdressers, barbers and beauticians are ready for these conversations."
Liv, an Apprentice at Hx Hair is testament to the culture Heffy has created: “There’s been times where I’ve been struggling but haven’t wanted to ask for help. Sometimes when you’re not feeling yourself you need someone to remind you to do the little things like eating and drinking. If any of us are having a bad day, Heffy will pull us aside and simply ask us if we’re ok. It’s a small step but it opens up the doors for communication. Our salon is a safe space for everyone, clients and staff. It’s also about your boss being able to spot the bad days and step in to make sure a bad day doesn’t turn in to a bad week or a bad month. It’s about being kinder to each other.”
“To look after my mental health, I find that my days off are invaluable to help me relax and process the week before and plan for the week ahead." says D'Arcy White, Apprentice at Jack & The Wolfe. Taking the time to exercise is also key to D'Arcy's routine. "I like to go for a run, specifically in the morning to clear my thoughts and being in nature helps me to find inspiration. Actions from my bosses that have helped me are talking, both formally, in terms of progress reviews and informally via daily chats and check ins. At work we have an open, honest and level relationship so I have the confidence to talk to them when I have doubts."
D'Arcy tells us that Jack & The Wolfe are in the process of working with a local wellbeing coach who will provide in-house sessions with the full team focusing on burnout and mindfulness, "This could be something other salons might adopt to help teams with looking after their mental health."
Millie Evans, Apprentice at BE Ironbridge tells us that she feels lucky to have a great work-life balance: “We work Wednesday to Saturday and one late night a week. Having an approachable boss, who you can go to with anything is massively important when it comes to my mental health, whenever there’s an issue or something is worrying me I know I can go to Brooke and she’ll help with whatever it is." Communication is key for apprentices to feel supported in their place of work. "It comes down to finding the right fit for you in terms of salon culture and the salon team. One thing I love at BE Ironbridge is that we’re all a family, it’s like having an extended support system.”
The health and happiness of your team are everything. Not only will it keep your salon functioning, but it will permeate into their work and infuse passion into every look they create. Isn't that what hairdressing is all about? The below services are available for yourself and your staff across the UK:
- PAPYRUS - Prevention of Young Suicide is a UK charity dedicated to the prevention of suicide and the promotion of positive mental health and emotional wellbeing in young people. They provide confidential support and advice to young people struggling with thoughts of suicide, and anyone worried about a young person through their helpline, HOPELINEUK, 0800 068 41 41
- Hub of Hope - The Hub of Hope is the UK’s leading mental health support database, that brings local, national, peer, community, charity, private and NHS mental health support and services together in one place
- Samaritans - The Samaritans 24-hour service is is available to talk right now, call 116 123 or [email protected]
- Shout - Provides 24/7 crisis support across the UK. Text SHOUT to 85258 if you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support