Supporting your clients' mental health as they return to the salon

Salon owner and beauty therapist Marie-Louise Coster highlights how our industry can support our clients' mental health through The Lions Barber Collective training course. 

Marie-Louise Coster There is no disputing that the past 12 months or so have been an unsettling time for all of us. The fear of losing our businesses and livelihoods, the risks to our health and that of our families and the isolation of being away from friends, family and loved ones.

This situation has been a huge test on our mental health, and that of our clients.

During the various lockdowns I have undertaken 157 courses, but none of them were as impactful and important as the course I did with the Lions Barbers Collective.

I have always worked in the beauty industry, almost 30 years now. This isn't a job you can do unless you like and care about people.  I was taught client care, as everyone was, and I would have always considered my understanding of people to be really good.

12 years ago, a friend of mine died by suicide.  

I had no idea he was having these thoughts.

I had noticed nothing.

All of those years of dealing with people and caring for people and I hadn't noticed my own friend was struggling.

Grief is a strange thing. It is an emotion that has nowhere to go so it stays with you forever. You grieve for what you have lost, but you also grieve for the things that person never got to see. Every time I drive past his place of work I grieve for the lost waves and the lost opportunity that my daughter never got to meet this amazing person. My friend.

This experience heightened my senses to take notice of things all the more, to listen for signs, to notice changes in behaviour.

During this last lockdown I became aware of The Lions Barbers Collective charity and the incredible work they do.  

Lions Barbers Collective was started by Tom Chapman. Tom is a barber and sadly lost a friend to suicide. This spurred him into raising money and awareness of suicide prevention. He planned a one-off event creating a look book of hairstyles to raise money. This grew into a collection of barbers providing training, support and confidence to other barbers to recognise the signs and, ultimately, save lives. 

We have a life changing opportunity to help, support and direct a client if they are having negative and suicidal thoughts and we need to be properly equipped with the confidence, information and training to be able to do this; that is where the Lions Barbers Collective comes in.
This training is now something Tom wants to roll out to nail and beauty professionals, and I was fortunate enough to attend the first hair and beauty talk training. I can honestly say it is by far the best, and most impactful, training I have ever done in all of my years in the industry. There truly is nothing else like it in our industry and it is so long overdue, especially now - living through this pandemic - and the isolation and uncertainty it has created. It is a course I feel passionately that all nail and beauty professionals must attend, it is essential. 

We are in such a privileged position, we spend very personal time with our clients, we physically hold their hands during many treatments. We are a supportive and non-judgmental ear to listen. They tell us things they often don't tell others - we aren't called Beauty THERAPISTS for nothing. 

I have had clients tell me they are pregnant before they have told their families, I have cried with clients after they have suffered a miscarriage and had a cancer diagnosis, and I have smiled with them on their wedding days, after the birth of their longed-for baby and supported them through the loss of a loved one and divorces. I am so honoured and fortunate to have been entrusted with such information at such pivotal times in their lives.  Our support and involvement with our clients is not something that should ever be underestimated. 

And it is through these times with our clients that we have a real opportunity to notice any changes in their mood, their behaviour and their mental health.
Over 6,000 people take their own life in the UK every year, with someone taking their own life every 80 minutes. That is a shocking statistic. Nobody wants to take their own life, nobody wants to die, they just often can't see a way out of a situation they are in and they don't want to live their life at that time during that situation. 

We have a life changing opportunity to help, support and direct a client if they are having negative and suicidal thoughts and we need to be properly equipped with the confidence, information and training to be able to do this. That is where the Lions Barbers Collective comes in and I urge everyone, if you never do any other training every again, you really must do this.  It WILL save someone's life.

Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Trainer and Business Consultant, with over 20 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Beauty & Holistic Training School is ABT-accredited.