Hairdressers training to recognize signs of depression

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - More Americans took their lives last year than the number of people who died from opioid overdoses. According to a new report by the Center for Disease Control, more than half of those people never were diagnosed with any mental illness.

Hairdressers are learning how to pick up on signs of depression in their clients.

"Whether its a divorce or a job loss, fertility issues. We call it 'hairapy,' and it is," said Elizabeth Anderson, hairdresser at Clementine Salon in Knoxville.

It has been a long standing tradition, people have turned to their hairdresser to open up about conversations that are often hard to have with friends and family.

"She makes me feel unashamed. I'm a single mom, I got pregnant out of wedlock, and when you get pregnant and go through something like that you have that moment of weakness where you feel ashamed," said Anderson's longtime client, Wendy Hill. "With her I felt like I could say certain things to her and she listened. She comforted me in ways I can't even explain."

The rate for suicide is its highest in adults between 45 and 64 years old and while suicide is more common in men than woman, there has been a rise in female suicides.

Anderson said she learned in beauty school how to help identify signs of depression in her clients. She added that her client usually looks at her through the mirror, which makes it easier than face-to-face interaction to open up about personal information.

"It's nothing that you want to take lightly," said Anderson. "I think that's the biggest thing you don't feel alone. Over time you build those relationships with those little five minute segments."

University of Tennessee communication studies professor Dr. John Haas added that the bond between a stylist and a client is strengthened because there is less personal space than compared to other relationships. He said the physical touch leads to a more intimate connection.