Cut to the Chase Makes an Impact

Published on August 9, 2023

For Black men, the barbershop is a safe space. This is how Cut to the Chase is making an impact.

Author: Kandace Redd, ABC 10
Published: July 31, 2023

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — For Black men, the barbershop is a safe space. Kendall Robinson is the co-owner of Five Starr Fades on Del Paso Boulevard in Sacramento. He says barbers provide more than hair cuts to clients.

“It’s kind of like a therapeutic community,” said Robinson. “It’s like therapy sessions, pretty much, when you go to the barbershop. Everybody needs help in some areas, where they’re embarrassed to talk about it amongst family or so called friends. Some of those issues are private and they feel more secure when they’re in the chair talking to their barber about it.”

Five Starr Fades is working with the Greater Sacramento Urban League to reduce the stigma around Black men and therapy.

The Greater Sacramento Urban League started a new program called “Cut to the Chase.” Black men can get free counseling in a small group setting with licensed mental health professionals while at the barbershop.

“There’s not a lot of people talking about what’s happening with Black men,” said Troy Williams, the Chief Impact Officer of the Greater Sacramento Urban League. “Very rarely are we offered a space where we can be truthful about our fears and things that we’re trying to navigate. What we are trying to do with Cut to the Chase is provide that space for these men.”

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 39% of Black people got mental health services compared to 52% of white people. The latest CDC report also shows suicide was the third leading cause of death among Black men ages 25-34 in 2020. Black men were 4x more likely to die by suicide than Black women in 2018.

Jonno Strickling, who lives in Sacramento, finds the statistics about Black men and mental health concerning. He recently participated in Cut to the Chase at Five Starr Fades. He says the program is a life-saver.

“I know that I’m not alone in this fight,” said Strickling. “For so long, there’s been this stigma that, ‘No, I cannot go see a therapist. No, I do not want to go see a counselor because I’m going to be looked at funny.’ And that’s not true… we all need help.”

According to Mental Health America, the historical Black and African American experience in America continues to be characterized by trauma and violence more often than for their white counterparts. It impacts emotional and mental health of both youth and adults.

There are several barriers to mental health services and resources for Black people, too. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), socioeconomic factors can make treatment options less available. In 2020, 10.4% of Black people in the U.S. had no form of health insurance.

The lack of Black representation in the mental health field is also a challenge. As NAMI explains, a health care provider who is not culturally competent might not recognize symptoms of a mental health condition. Additionally, Black people are more likely to receive a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia when expressing symptoms related to mood disorders.

When it comes to Cut to the Chase, the Greater Sacramento Urban League says Black men will be encouraged and supported through culturally appropriate care. The program is available at two barbershop locations.  

  • Five Starr Fades at 1332 Del Paso Blvd. in North Sacramento offers the program every second Thursday of the month from 6-7 p.m. The next session date is Aug. 10.
  • Exclusive Barber Studio at 3304 2nd Ave. in South Sacramento offers the program every first Thursday of the month from 6-7 p.m. The next session date is Aug. 3.

“Don’t be afraid to talk about the things that you fear most,” said Robinson. “Just come check it out, you don’t have to answer any questions, just sit back, observe and listen. Some of the best lessons in life are when you just sit back, listen and observe. You will leave with more than what you came with.”