Kaiser Permanente: Improving Depression Through Mindful Beauty

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente.

Beauty shops have long served as neighborhood hubs where clients often feel comfortable sharing their personal stories with their hairstylists. An innovative program spearheaded by the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science will leverage those special bonds to help improve mental health and health equity in South Los Angeles.


Called “Mindful Beauty,” the pilot educational program will train African-American stylists to spot signs of depression in their customers and refer them to local treatment and support services as appropriate.

“Many black women don’t seek professional treatment for mental health issues,” said Sonya Young Aadam, chief executive officer, California Black Women’s Health Project. “In addition to the limited availability of mental health resources, there’s also a cultural stigma that they’re supposed to be strong and deal with it on their own, or they fear people will call them crazy, or they think it can be ‘prayed away.'”

It takes a community

Expected to launch in early 2019, the Mindful Beauty collaborative involves several community partners:

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science designed the program and is developing and overseeing the project’s data collection and evaluation processes.

Black BeautyShop Health Foundation is conducting outreach and recruiting hair salons and stylists to participate in the program.

California Black Women’s Health Project is adapting its advocate training program curriculum to meet the needs of the hairstylists.

Kaiser Permanente Southern California recently funded the program with an $80,000, 2-year community health grant. This grant is one of 16 local partnership grants, totaling $1.28 million, that support community partners working to improve mental health in under-resourced Southern California communities.

“The prevalence of depression is growing,” said John Yamamoto, vice president, community health and government relations, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals in Southern California. “For people suffering from depression, the effects can be devastating, negatively impacting their ability to relate to others, do well in their work, and enjoy quality of life.”

“But depression is a treatable condition,” Yamamoto said. “The Mindful Beauty program is a unique way to help black women with depression in under-resourced communities receive the care they need to live healthy, happy lives.”

Depression is more common in women

Approximately 16 million U.S. adults experience major depression each year, with women nearly twice as likely as men to develop it, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

People of all ages and racial and socioeconomic backgrounds suffer from depression — but it affects some groups more than others due to stigma, which hinders seeking treatment, limited access to care, and other barriers.

According to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health report, African Americans are 20 percent more likely than the general population to experience serious mental health conditions, including major depression.

A haven for women to discuss and share everything

The Mindful Beauty program is recruiting five hair salons to participate in Mindful Beauty. Each of these salons will enlist two hairstylists who will complete a 7-week training curriculum led by licensed mental health professionals.

“Women are the health CEO of the family,” said Margo Wade LaDrew, executive director and founder, Black BeautyShop Health Foundation.

“Given that black women visit the salon an average of 2.5 times a month — and some even weekly — the beauty shop is an ideal place to educate women and equip them with practical tools for improving their family’s health,” Wade LaDrew said. “Stylists are trusted by their clients, and black beauty shops have always been a haven where women discuss and share everything.”

Dana Nelson, a 35-year hairstylist in South Los Angeles, agreed.

“Every week, I have 20, 30 people in my chair,” said Nelson, who works at Turning Heads Spa Salon and Boutique. “It would be wonderful to be able to direct customers who may be experiencing depression to the appropriate resources for their needs.”

Cynthia Davis, MPH, assistant professor at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, looks forward to launching the Mindful Beauty program that she describes as long overdue. At the end of the pilot, a program assessment will help determine next steps.

“Our hope is that the results will be very positive, and that Mindful Beauty can be replicated across the country,” said Davis.

Latest News

Flint, Michigan water plant

Ex-Michigan Governor Charged for Racist Lead Poisoning of Flint Water Supply; COVID-19 Vaccines Not Increasing in Availability; Democrats Plan to Repeal Trump Rules; and More

Former Michigan Governor formally charged for poisoning thousands of predominantly Black Flint citizens with water containing lead. In 2014, when the city of Flint was forced by the state to begin taking its water supply from the Flint river rather than using water from nearby Detroit as it had for…

NYPD under suit

NYPD Sued for Years of Racial Abuse and Use of Excessive Force; Trump Administration Approves Discrimination Against LGBTQ individuals; and More

NYPD sued by Attorney General for years of racial abuse and use of excessive force. In what’s been called a “landmark lawsuit,” The New York Times has reported that New York state Attorney General Letitia James is suing the city of New York, the mayor and the NYPD’s leaders, alleging…

Toyota Research Institute and Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Lab Study How to Improve Automotive Safety

Originally published on pressroom.toyota.com. Inspired by the Skills of Professional Drift Drivers, Research Seeks to Combine the Technology of Vehicle Automation with Artificial Intelligence Algorithms What if every driver who ran into trouble had the instinctive reflexes of a professional race car driver and the calculated foresight of a supercomputer…

Tribal elder

Loss of Tribal Elders Due to COVID-19 Decimating Indigenous Populations; Colorado Revamps Common-Law Marriage Requirements, Making Them More Friendly for LGBTQ Couples; and More

Loss of tribal elders due to COVID-19 decimating Indigenous populations. The Muscogee, Navajo, Blackfeet Nation, White Mountain Apache and Choctaw tribes are among the many communities of Indigenous people suffering irreparable losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Times reporter Jack Healy has reported. Already impacted by infection rates…

Justice for George Floyd

Officer Who Pressed Knee Into George Floyd’s Neck to Stand Trial Alone; Judge Halts Federal Execution of Lisa Montgomery, Only Woman on Death Row

Officer who pressed knee into George Floyd’s neck to stand trial alone in March. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin — the man who can be seen on video pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck for an excruciating 8 minutes and 46 seconds — will now stand trial alone,…

BASF Starts Global Registration for New and Environmentally Friendly Insecticide Active Ingredient

Originally published on BASF.com. BASF ranked No. 14 on The 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list. Regulatory dossiers for Axalion™insecticide submitted in Australia and Korea Active ingredient with novel mode of action and high compatibility with beneficial insects, including pollinators First sales for Axalion-based products expected by 2023…

TIAA’s Roger Ferguson on Solving the Student Debt Crisis

CEO Roger Ferguson shares how TIAA (No. 9 on 2020 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) teamed up with loan wellness platform Savi to help nonprofit workers reduce monthly student debt payments and work toward forgiveness. Watch his full talk at the link below. https://www.tiaa.org/public/foward-focus-/episode-7-your-financial-future-the-path-forward