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Why Black Barbers Should Be Considered Essential Workers in America

Study confirms valuable role of Black barbers in empowering and healing Black community members

Download Gelzhiser's Study

Download Harvard Op-Ed

The Confess Project, America’s First Mental Health Awareness Movement,” participates in a research study with Harvard University as part of the “Barbers Are Mental Health Gatekeepers #BarbersAreGatekeepers” Campaign. Study confirms the valuable role of Black barbers in empowering and healing Black community members.

Harvard researchers interviewed 32 barbers–a majority of whom are part of TCP’s Barber Coalition– to better understand what role barbers may play as mental health advocates, suicide prevention, and interpersonal violence gatekeepers.

These interviews took place between September and December 2020 and consisted of open-ended questions that explored the barbers’ experiences and perspectives regarding mental health and community services. The researchers’ goal was to identify new methods to reduce traumatic injury and death among Black male youth while sharing the work of barber gatekeepers.

In short, the research confirms that Black barbers play an essential role in Black communities as change agents. Black barbers could create lasting racial change, help Black community members build trust with one another, and bridge the gap in Black communities between unmet mental health needs and mental health care.

Be a part of the healing journey of Black boys, men, and their families across the country by donating to The Confess Project during this time.


With 1 in 5 people in the U.S affected by mental illness, there’s never been a more urgent moment for mental health advocacy. TCP’s programming specifically focuses on communities of color who have far too long borne the brunt and weight of trauma, alone. Please text the number above or click the button below to donate to The Confess Project Suicide Prevention Campaign: Resilience Over Silence.

Our team brings over 40 years collective experience in fields ranging from social work to behavioral health to therapy to develop programs for those who have the greatest stake in the issue. Hoping to reach as many advocates as possible, we see our programs as part of a wider movement to solve mental health disparities in the Black community—now, and for generations to come.