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'We can really make an impact' - project aims to increase mental health awareness among hairdressers

PUBLISHED: 12:36 20 July 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 20 July 2018

Katie Scarfe (left), colour director at CODE in Oulton Broad, with salon owner Laura Bull and Lowestoft mental health ambassador Tod Sullivan. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Katie Scarfe (left), colour director at CODE in Oulton Broad, with salon owner Laura Bull and Lowestoft mental health ambassador Tod Sullivan. Picture: Sonya Duncan

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A new partnership has been formed between a hair salon and a mental health specialist as they try and change the face of the hairdressing industry.

Mrs Scarfe has been training in mental health first aid and is determined to increase mental health awareness among hairdressers. Picture: Sonya DuncanMrs Scarfe has been training in mental health first aid and is determined to increase mental health awareness among hairdressers. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Katie Scarfe, colour director at CODE Hair Consultants in Oulton Broad, has been working with Lowestoft mental health ambassador Tod Sullivan to devise ways of increasing awareness in the area.

The pair produced a ‘Cut Out The Stigma’ podcast on CODE’s own mental health initiative and have organised a special event of the same name that brings together industry practitioners.

“I’ve been working closely with Tod to produce the podcast and prepare for the event,” said Mrs Scarfe. “Tod will provide training on awareness and listening techniques, and the whole aim is bring the hairdressing community together.

“We want to change the face of the industry, to break down the barriers that prevent people from being open about mental health.”

Katie Scarfe (right), colour director at CODE in Oulton Broad, with salon owner Laura Bull and Lowestoft mental health ambassador Tod Sullivan. Picture: Sonya DuncanKatie Scarfe (right), colour director at CODE in Oulton Broad, with salon owner Laura Bull and Lowestoft mental health ambassador Tod Sullivan. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Those who attend the event - taking place from 11am on August 12 at Sams Coffee House in Lowestoft - are welcome to contribute their own ideas on how to enhance the campaign.

Mr Sullivan, Lowestoft’s first ever mental health ambassador, is continuing to work with a range different industries as part of his role.

“Katie dropped me a line and was clearly passionate and wanted to help people,” said Mr Sullivan. “After doing the podcast we decided to get people together from across the industry to open up. We want hairdressers to be aware of how to respond to each other’s problems.

“On the other hand it can be anxiety-provoking for people to step into salon. From the outside looking in, someone low in confidence could easily be intimidated, but the reality is hairdressers are friendly people with their own worries and anxieties.

“One of our ideas is opening salons in the evening and offering sessions where only a couple of chairs are open and there is a calmer atmosphere.”

As she works to increase awareness at CODE, Mrs Scarfe has attended ‘mental health first aid’ training and believes there are few other jobs with the capacity to influence mental wellbeing.

“Hairdressers can really make an impact on people’s lives and we have to take the time to do that,” she added. “There’s no other thing where you get that kind of time to just talk to someone with no distractions or interruptions.

“The opportunity has always been there - it’s about letting people know they can be open.”

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