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Some Sacramento salons, barbershops offer free counseling for Black men and women

Free counseling for Black men, women at some Sacramento salons, barbershops
Free counseling for Black men, women at some Sacramento salons, barbershops 02:26

SACRAMENTO — It's long been known that sitting in your hairstylist's chair can feel like a therapy session. At some hair salons and barbershops in Sacramento, professional counseling is actually free.

Natae Oforlea and Mi Helton are the owners of It's My Hair. The beauty salon off Northgate Boulevard is part of the Cut to the Chase Crown Edition program put together by the Greater Sacramento Urban League.

"It's such a dynamic program and we're so happy to be a part of it," Oforlea said.

Less than two months into the program, the owners are seeing a surprising need for professional help.

"We anticipated 20 people. We far exceeded that," Helton said. "It was 46 women that walked through that door."

The Crown Edition program allows Black women to meet up once a month at the salon to discuss everyday life challenges.

As a group, they get to speak with licensed mental health professionals at no cost.

"The hair salon is the hub for those types of conversations," Helton said. "So they already feel safe with just what it is, but to come in and have the additional resources here for what it is that they're feeling on the inside is even more amazing."

Research shows that only one in three Black adults with mental illness get treatment. Some of the biggest barriers include lack of health insurance, access to care, and the stigma surrounding mental health.

The new Cut to the Chase program is changing all that for both men and women – and it's in high demand.

"So this pace, it's spreading and more people are hearing about it and they're very excited to come to Cut to the Chase," said Dr. Troy Williams, Ph.D., chief impact officer of the Greater Sacramento Urban League.

Kendall Robinson is the co-owner of Five Starr Fades. His shop is also part of the program.

"Barbershops have been known to be like a ministry, so to speak, for years way before me, where men can come and discuss things that they encounter in their life and guidance, some wisdom," Robinson said.

That guidance and wisdom come from professional therapists who are carefully listening in these unique settings.

"I'm just so happy that people have decided to, you know, cut to the chase and put their own mental health first and foremost, make it a priority in their lives, so I'm really thankful for this," said Bryant Howard, owner of Heart of the Matter Counseling.

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