The Urban League of Greater OKC is addressing mental health in the Black community with a new program centered around helping Black men.
Thanks to funding from the United Way of Central Oklahoma, the Urban League of Greater OKC decided to create a program to combat this called “Real Talk, Brother.”
“There’s a large stigma in the Black community about counseling and mental health,” Urban League of Greater OKC vice president of administration Shani Nealy said. “We wanted to break that stigma by showing people in a short snippet that counseling is something that is acceptable and can help them at any time in their life.”
The program partners with barbers to help connect African American males of all ages connect with counselors that look just like them and have been through similar life experiences.
“Black men, we're always taught to be strong and hide and hold our emotions down, and sometimes, that can be a bad thing,” Scissorhands Fade N Up barber Jamon Jones said. “I want all the Black men that I know and I'm around to know it's OK to release that pain that you're holding on.”
Jones, who has been a barber for about 20 years, said it's natural to build a relationship with his clients. He's looking forward to helping them further with this program.
“You might end up blowing up one day. It's going to come out, so you might as well let it out and get it off your chest,” Jones said. “Hopefully, you can move on with your life and do better.”
Barbers in the program will participate in a virtual training session to learn how to identify signs that their clients may be dealing with anxiety. They also learn stress-reducing skills.
Clients can participate in up to three counseling sessions for free.