AN Edinburgh hairdresser has become a safe space for customers suffering from anxiety and depression.
Working alongside a life coach, Stockbridge salon Vincent Bell has created an “island of escapism” for those who need it, including quiet areas and low music.
Staff have also been schooled in the art of meditation to help them to better understand mental health issues.
The In It Together initiative was sparked after a customer who suffered from extreme anxiety admitted to staff that she hadn’t visited a salon in over a decade.
Recognising the importance of grooming to a person’s sense of wellbeing, the owners decided to make the salon as welcoming as possible.
Vincent Bell said: “Everybody has the right to feel good about themselves and often this is connected to having your hair done.
“If someone’s mental health is preventing them from visiting a salon then we need to address the situation and create safe, welcoming spaces that everyone can visit.”
Vincent Bell Hairdressing has created special ‘quiet’ areas outside the main thoroughfare of the salon so that appointments can be taken at the client’s pace, in a calmer, more serene environment.
The music can be lowered and stylists have been coached to understand the unique needs of clients.
Karen Bell, who co-owns the salon added: “We’ve been touched by mental health issues ourselves.
“Family, friends, team members and clients – it affects everyone these days. We want to do something that would let those suffering know they can come to us and we’ll offer them an island of escapism.”
The team have also been working with life coach, Lynette Gray to help equip team members with their own mental health concerns and learn how to speak with clients who struggle with their own mental health and well-being.
She said: “During my time with the team, we breathed together, meditated and connected to our hearts.
“My intention was to allow each member to nurture their ability to feel compassion for themselves and for others.
“If all team members can live from this heart space, full of compassion then they can create a really safe space for every client that comes into the salon. For Vincent Bell Hairdressing to create an environment that is sympathetic to the needs of those with mental health concerns is a positive movement for the high street and humanity.”
The salon said evidence showing a connection between looking good and improved overall mental health and well-being, had also inspired the launch. Clients who feel they could benefit from the salon’s special measures can let the staff know when booking an appointment.
Set up in 1999 by the husband and wife team, Vincent Bell also secured a prestigious award for work with young people at an in-house training academy. The Vincent Bell Training Academy has achieved a Investors in Young People Silver Accreditation, which focuses on recruitment and retention of young people.