One in three Americans (32%) are more likely to discuss their worries with the person who cuts their hair than with a professional therapist, according to a new poll from AQ, an anxiety management app that tracks anxiety in real-time. Women, younger adults, Midwesterners, and Hispanics are most likely of all to do so, according to the survey of 1,005 Americans by pollsters iPsos eNation, on behalf of AQ.
"Millions of Americans suffer anxiety, depression, and similar challenges but can’t afford to consult a professional therapist. Others might have the money but not the time — or the inclination to do so, sometimes due to a lingering sense of stigma. And even if they do have the time, money, and inclination, there just aren’t enough trained therapists to meet the overwhelming need."
— Dr. Shaun Nanavati, neuropsychologist and chief science officer of AQ
“AQ empowers you to become your own therapist,” added Dr. Nanavati. It tracks your anxiety levels and mental state in real-time and then gives you real-time measures to manage them better.
Hair stylists and barbers, meanwhile, seem to be helping bridge “the therapy gap” in a different, less data-driven way than AQ, by acting as America’s unofficial therapists.
“They are paid for their cutting and styling skills,” he said, “but our poll confirms that many also spend their days listening to the troubles of their clients and acting as what amounts to informal and untrained therapists or counsellors.
“Whether we like it or not, the folks cutting our hair are already in the front line of today’s mental health crisis. You might call them salon or barber-chair therapists.”
Stylists and barbers, of course, lack the training and qualifications to tackle many of the issues that trained therapists do, stresses Dr. Nanavati. “And yet some of their clients may feel more relaxed, trusting, and open with them than they would with a trained therapist.”
- The 32% of respondents to AQ’s poll who agree with the statement that “I am more likely to discuss my worries with the person who cuts my hair than I am with a professional therapist” is the equivalent of 83 million adult Americans.
- Women (35%) are more likely than men (29%) to prefer telling their worries to the person cutting their hair, while those aged 18-34 (37%) are more likely to do so than their elders.
- Midwesterners (37%) are more likely to do so than those in any other region — and strikingly more likely so than Northeasterners (22%). “Could this be because there are more therapists to see in the North-East and maybe also less residual stigma about consulting one?”, asks Dr. Nanavati.
- Hispanics (40%) are the ethnic group most likely to prefer sharing their problems with the person cutting their hair, while “White (non-Hispanic)” (29%) are least likely to do so.
- Those with children at home are more likely than those without to prefer sharing their worries with their stylist or barber — by a margin of 37% to 30%.
How the AQ App Works
The AQ app collects vitals in realtime, including about 15 heart-rate readings an hour, taken on average every four minutes — from an Apple Watch throughout the day and applying its technology to determine your mental state at all times.
Additionally, AQ also suggests measures to help you lower your anxiety in real time. These range from CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) exercises to mindfulness and meditations, guided training, and nature sounds, while the app’s “SOS Library” features about a dozen short exercises to provide immediate stress relief.
Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Ipsos eNation. Respondents were asked the question: How much do you agree or disagree with the following statement? “I am more likely to discuss my worries with the person who cuts my hair than I am with a professional therapist”. Total sample size was 1,005 U.S. adults in a nationally representative online survey. Fieldwork was undertaken online between April 24-25th, 2023.
Figures for how many millions of Americans are more likely to discuss their worries with the person who cuts their hair than with a therapist were calculated by taking the percentage of poll respondents who had felt that particular anxiety and applying it to the total number of U.S. adults, age 18+ (258.3M) in the last U.S. Census (2020).
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