Black Men’s Health Barbershop Initiative to Combat Hypertension in Black Men

Historically, the barbershop has been a place of refuge for black men. It’s where they can speak unfiltered and be themselves. The barbershop, in the black community, is an institution of influence and so it is discerning that The Black Men’s Health Initiative has designated barbers apt change agents to help improve black men’s health.

The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority (FDHA) will host Licensed Barbers from Fulton and DeKalb counties who will be trained to accurately check the blood pressure readings of their clients. The program — a partnership led by The FDHA, the American Heart Association, the DeKalb County Board of Health and the Georgia Department of Public Health — is set to train licensed barbers to accurately check the blood pressure of their clients and to encourage them to check their blood pressure regularly as well as to seek additional care from a healthcare provider.

The FDHA launched its first barbershop initiative in 2017 with then-health educator Sherard Polite visiting shops on Saturdays with health information for men. Training the barbers themselves to take their clients blood pressure readings is the next phase in our outreach to African-American men around preventative health.

The FDHA hopes to train 30 barbers annually and will track participants as it does all programming outcomes for any initiatives that it funds or executes.

According to the American Heart Association, black men have the highest rate of hypertension-related death of any group in the United States (three times the rate of white men), partly because high blood pressure goes untreated in so many African Americans.

The FDHA, owners of Grady Health System, has immersed itself as an organization — engaging and educating the community about preventive health care so that they are able to advocate on behalf of their own health outcomes. The Black Men’s Health Barbershop Initiative is just one of the many out-of-the-box projects FDHA has launched to connect citizens to resources allowing them to maintain good physical and mental health. Officials say they “envision a community where residents thrive.”

“By training barbers to actually check the high blood pressure of their clients we hope to increase engagement and awareness around this deadly disease,” officials said.

The FDHA Health Educator, Kelvin Walston expects the initiative to “raise awareness among African American men about high blood pressure and heart disease.

“We hope to reach as many men as possible to get them to learn about their blood pressure and work to control their numbers.”

Licensed barbers in Fulton or DeKalb County who are interested in participating in training should contact Walston at Kwalston@thefdha.org.

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