Supporting barbershop and salon programs that raise awareness for cardiovascular disease in the Black community is a cut above the rest. These spaces are more than places for grooming; they’re community hubs where crucial health conversations happen.
Barbershops have a strong cultural presence in many Black communities. They are spaces where individuals gather not only for haircuts but also for conversations, discussions, and social interactions. Leveraging this cultural relevance, the BBSHOP program began in 2012 to help address cardiovascular disease by providing blood pressure screenings, resources, education, and referrals to clients. We primarily screen for high blood pressure using automated cuffs, and about 20% of those screened have stage 2 (highest stage) high blood pressure. Since the program’s implementation, we are proud to say that we have screened nearly 10,000 people for high blood pressure.
Our goal is to educate the operators and clients by letting them know that hypertension/high blood pressure is a very treatable disease but can also be a silent killer. First, you must know you have it. Once that has been determined, it is time to get your blood pressure checked to determine the best treatment method. Treatment typically involves lifestyle changes and, often, medication management.
If high blood pressure is observed, we refer clients to a healthcare provider or clinic. If clients do not have a healthcare provider, CBHC will provide the individual with information on private doctors, nurse practitioners, or clinics they can contact. Often, clients are searching for a Black healthcare provider, and CBHC utilizes our Health Resource Directory to provide culturally sensitive recommendations.
Get your barbershop or salon involved.
The Barbershop and Salon Health Outreach Program Toolkit (Toolkit) was a collaborative effort between the Colorado Black Health Collaborative and the Kaiser Permanente African American Center of Excellence (AACE) in 2015. The Toolkit is designed to empower community health workers, clinicians, and volunteers to launch, sustain, and monitor the success of an effective barbershop and salon outreach program. This type of program can cost “dimes” to start and sustain, but there certainly are examples of programs that have had millions dedicated to this worthwhile endeavor. This how-to-guide:
- Describes the reason and need for an outreach program.
- Gives an inside view on health disparities in the shops.
- Cultural reviews over the history of health initiatives in shops.
- Walks users through the logistics of starting, running, and marketing a program.
- Provides volunteer training materials.
- Gives pointers on analyzing data, preserving experiences, and creating annual reports.
- Provides an ample list of resources and an evaluation.
Project HairCare (PHC) is a new component developed in December 2022. PHC was created to help address mental health challenges that operators note among shop clients. For more information go to the PHC website: projecthaircare.com.
Dr. Terri Richardson, MD
Roline Milfort, Community Member[/column]