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“This is going to take a sea of voices and a gigantic chorus to create change.”
– Melissa Doman, M.A., Author of ‘Yes, You Can Talk About Mental Health at Work.’
As a salon owner, staying attuned to both your own mental health and your stylists’ is vital. Employee burnout contributes to staff turnover, impacting your salon’s culture and revenue. So how can you encourage a mentally healthy culture within your salon?
Talk about it.
Starting the Conversation
Melissa Doman, Organization Psychologist and Author of ‘Yes, You Can Talk About Mental Health at Work,’ started this conversation with us at the 2022 Intercoiffure America Canada Fall Atelier. “Talking about mental health at work is healthy, mature, responsible, and deeply, deeply urgent,” says Doman. “There’s an opportunity, as a manager, as an owner, to set that tone in your salon and to be able to normalize these conversations and embed them in the fabric of your salon culture.”
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Bumble and Bumble sponsored Doman’s presentation–one of the most inspiring moments of the weekend. Normalizing the conversation around mental health in the salon is a big topic for Senior Vice President and General Manager of Bumble and bumble, Corey Reese. “Bumble and Bumble was happy to support programming around mental health and wellness and what that means for the hairdressing community,” said Reese. Julie Cassidy, Director of Sales, North America, East, at Bumble and bumble, added, “We really knew that there was a need in this industry, now more than ever after the last year or two of all the pivots and everything that we’ve had to go through.”
Conversations about mental health at work are stigmatized but Doman wants to change that. “People are so quick to talk about variations in physical health, but when it comes to any variation in mental health, they seem like they have to apologize for talking about something that is just part of the human experience. So five to ten years from now, I really hope that if someone says, ‘Oh, my generalized anxiety is acting up and I need to go see my therapist,’ that no one will blink.”
Who Owns Mental Health in the Workplace?
As owners and leaders, it’s up to us to create the shift in perspective and culture and this starts in your salon. Make the salon a safe space where conversations surrounding mental health are not only okay but encouraged. Start with yourself: “If you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off,” says Doman, “instead of saying, ‘I’m fine,’ say, ‘I’m actually really not doing okay right now. I’m feeling really anxious, but I’m not in the space to talk about it.’”
Naming your feelings instead of dismissing them will give your team the strength to do the same and open conversations that will ultimately lead to a healthier work culture. As leaders, we want to remain stoic and strong to support our teams, but this may be sending the wrong message. “Do not absolve yourself of your humanity to lead a team,” says Doman. “If anything, you’re doing yourself and your team a disservice by dehumanizing yourself because that means they don’t know when you are going through something or that they have permission to support you.”
This change won’t come unless we all take this to heart.
“Don’t just sit on the education. Please do something with it because this is going to take a sea of voices and a gigantic chorus to create change,” Doman urges. “Make these conversations infectious.”
“It really only takes one person to open up that conversation. And it just feels like once they do, the floodgates are open and people are willing to talk about really what’s going on in their lives, which is a very beautiful thing,” adds Cassidy.