How do you support a client that has just entrusted you with their deepest, darkest thoughts and worries? This is a question that hair and beauty therapists in our sectors have to grapple with on an almost daily basis. For some customers, their trip to the hairdressers, barbers or beauty therapist is not only for a service but their only opportunity to open up about their struggles. Tyler Gray, educator at VTCT training provider Hair@the Academy says, “In this industry, clients will often confide in their hairdressers and beauticians. Having a good understanding of mental health awareness will help you to be able to listen and understand what your client may be going through.”
As an Awarding Body, we recognised the need to not only equip learners with the skills to signpost clients that may be suffering but also ensure that they can take care of their own mental wellbeing by developing a suite of Mental Health Awareness qualifications. These qualifications enable learners to develop knowledge of a range of mental health conditions, the factors affecting mental health and the impact of mental health from a global, individual and workplace perspective.
And no one recognises the direct impact of Mental Health Awareness on learners more than the world-class training providers that dedicate themselves to empowering future professionals to fulfil their potential. Hair@the Academy is one of these innovative centres, supporting over 200 students through hairdressing and barbering qualifications over the last 11 years. Tyler Gray currently delivers the Level 1 Award in Mental Health Awareness at the centre. He says, “I attended Hair@the Academy as a student battling through my own mental health issues. They supported me to achieve my Level 2 diploma in women’s and men’s hairdressing. I volunteered to help the other students when I had finished my qualification and really enjoyed helping others. I enjoy supporting learners with complex mental health and learning needs as a way of giving back and supporting learners in the same way I was.”
Speaking about the impact of the qualification for his learners, Tyler reinforces the importance of building the foundation to allow future practitioners to flourish into skilled and compassionate individuals. He says, “I believe that offering this qualification will create more knowledge and dialogue around mental health issues and how to recognise them. Having this will ensure that when learners are in the workplace, they will have the resources to signpost customers and colleagues alike to access support within the community with compassion, understanding and empathy.”
Figures show that only 13% of people in the UK have received mental health training, despite 69% agreeing that emotional wellbeing is a crucial core skill to have. This amplifies the fact that individuals are desperate to gain the skills to support themselves and the people around them. One learner at Hair@the Academy expressed their shock at the lack of discourse around the subject in wider society, saying, “I was surprised how many people struggle with mental health issues and how little it is discussed. I feel it is important to learn how to understand people’s mental illnesses as it will help all of us when we go into a workplace.”
We can all do our small part to help the fight to destigmatise issues surrounding mental health. From taking the time to ask someone if they are okay and really listening to them, to educating yourself and others about how to spot the signs of mental ill-health and where to signpost someone for extra support. Tyler says, “I would strongly recommend the Level 1 Award in Mental Health Qualification to training providers. I think it shows a vital message that the subject of mental health is an important discussion to be had and break the negative stigma around mental health issues societally.”
Find out more about our Mental Health Qualifications and our special Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention Webinar.