East Midlands-based KH Hair, which has its head office in Long Eaton, is kicking off the initiative with a half day-introductory course aimed at raising awareness of mental health issues and giving salon owners an understanding of what mental health actually is and how to challenge the stigma that surrounds it.
Joint managing director of the Group, Darren Messias, explains: “We have been running our apprenticeship scheme for a number of years now and have definitely seen quite a significant growth in the number of school leavers suffering from some kind of mental health issue. Our franchisees are seeing this too and often call us for advice. These conversations have made us realise that, as a company, we are simply not equipped with the skills to recognise and deal with these issues effectively.”
The half-day course, developed by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA England) and delivered by St John Ambulance, will teach salon owners how to spot signs of distress and how to effectively start that first supportive conversation.
According to the Office for National Statistics, approximately one in four people in the UK will experience a mental illness each year and, MHFA England says the largest causes of sickness absence in the country are depression, stress and anxiety. “Depression is definitely the most common mental health issue we’re coming across among our young employees.” says Darren. “This is often caused by bullying at school which leads to anxiety and lack of confidence. It’s really important we arm our management with the skills to recognise the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and effectively guide their employees towards the appropriate support.”
MHFA also reports mental illness costs UK businesses around £35 billion every year, equating to £10.6 billion lost to sickness absence, £21.2 billion in reduced productivity, and £3.1 billion in substituting staff members who vacate their roles due to mental illness.
Employing over 300 staff, KH Hair Group comprises 20 salons, a barbers and an award-winning training academy. “We invest heavily in our workforce.” says Darren. “Many of our apprentices stay with us for the whole of their professional career and I strongly believe this is testament to our family ethos and commitment to providing all the support they need. Of course, mental health issues aren’t just prevalent among the young, so this initiative will hopefully help to break down any barriers for anyone, regardless of age, who needs our help.”