This coming week (15th – 21st May) is Mental Health Awareness Week. We report on a salon collective in Suffolk that is introducing Happiness Ambassadors to help its clients and team feel supported all year round.
Mental Health Awareness Week offers an opportunity for everyone to spend a little time thinking about the well-being of those around them. Janene Hawkins-Bush is owner of four hair salons in the Suffolk area (Heavenly Hair, Hair Affair, Quay Street Collective and Sir & Co Barbers). She had the idea for Happiness Ambassadors during the pandemic. She had noticed the very negative impact lockdown had on the wellbeing of her team.
“When the team returned after lockdown, we wanted to do something to boost morale and build confidence,” explains Janene. “We enlisted the help of a local clothes stylist who talked to the team about their style and what types of shapes and colours suited them.”
Come back, but not in black
Janene says that the mini project was called ‘Come back, but not in black’. The exercise was so successful at helping the team to feel better about themselves, that Janene was keen to find more ways to build mental health support and well being into the salon culture. Cue the Happiness Ambassadors!
Each salon across the collective has one Happiness Ambassador. This team member has undertaken Mental Health First Aid training with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA). The Happiness Ambassadors are there to support both clients and colleagues, creating a safe, non-judgemental environment where people feel listened to and cared for.
“In this industry, hairdressers spend lots of time talking to clients, with appointments often become unofficial therapy sessions,” continues Janene. “I wanted to introduce something that really delivered on our promise to offer a welcoming, judgement free salon. Clients can request talk to our Happiness Ambassadors in confidence and we are more than happy to organise private consultations. We don’t diagnose or recommend treatment, but we are there to listen and sign post services. Similarly, within our team, staff members can request to talk to a Happiness Ambassador if they are struggling and need support.”
The mental health support doesn’t stop there. At Janene’s barber salon, Sir & Co Barbers, manager Tris Curling works closely with the Lions Barber Collective, a charity that enlists the help of barbers to help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide. Once a month, Sir & Co Barbers hosts a drop-in session to encourage local men to talk and connect. These sessions are supported by local charity, The Worry Tree and aim to remove the stigma around mental health amongst men in particular.
“The wellbeing of our clients and staff is such a huge part of our culture across the four salons,” concludes Janene. “I am always thinking of new ways to help people find their happy. The Happiness Ambassadors are just one way to ensure we have mental health support in the salon environment. We also encourage team members to engage in activities that support their wellbeing at work, including meditation, goal setting and yoga.”