Born in jail to an incarcerated mother, Lorenzo struggled with depression, anxiety, and anger throughout his youth, to the point of being at risk of re-entering the system. From this, Lorenzo grew “The Confess Project,” an initiative that confronts the stigma around mental health for men of color.
Lorenzo’s life story and his life’s work give him a unique perspective on behavioral health and the social science issues surrounding the Black male identity. The Confess Project is an initiative that empowers barbers to become mental health advocates for men of color.
Since May 2016, The Confess Project has reached over 30,000 individuals in 13 cities in the Southern and Midwest Regions of the United States. The Confess Project is partnering with Gillette to reach 1 million individuals across the entire nation. Lorenzo has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, on ABC News, CNN, NBC, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and many more.
Listen in for some great takeaways on Lorenzo’s interesting approach to mental health and the impact he’s had on people, his community, and the world.
You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in…
- Why Lorenzo founded The Confess Project [3:08]
- Learn about Lorenzo’s organization: The Confess Project [4:34]
- Why mental health is important to Lorenzo [10:21]
- Lorenzo’s experience in barbershops [13:09]
- How The Confess Project has impacted young men [14:19]
- How they provide resources and training to barbers [16:14]
- The “Access-Advocacy-Innovation-Research” model [18:28]
- Lorenzo’s biggest challenges and takeaways with The Confess Project [20:04]
- Steps anyone can take to improve their mental health [25:31]
- How receiving an AFSP award impacted Lorenzo [27:53]
- What’s happening next for The Confess Project [30:30]
- What Lorenzo did today to get in the right mindset for success [31:49]
The Origin of The Confess Project
Lorenzo Lewis has worked in the mental health field for about a decade, working with both children and adults. As a young Black man in rural Arkansas, he struggled with societal issues many young Black men face, from drugs to gang involvement.
The Confess Project takes barbershops and incorporates them into the mental health movement. They empower barbers to become advocates in their communities by training them on active listening, positive communication, stigma reduction, validation, and more.
Why barbers? Barbers have deep ties in their communities, often working with the same men for years. The relationship between barbers and their clients has always been sacred. Because they’re deeply embedded in their communities, they are in a unique position to help those struggling with suicidal ideation.
So they’re trained to connect clients to mental health professionals and the suicide prevention crisis hotline. They are peer support and mentors showing up for clients in their everyday lives—with the power to change the trajectory of their lives.
Their core focus is young Black Americans between the ages of 6 and 35 and their families. In the future, they hope to support Latinos and other communities of the African diaspora. Lorenzo is tirelessly working on making The Confess Project a licensed and evidence-based initiative with the goal to gain funding to license the curriculum to work in other industries.
Listen to hear how growing up in his Aunt’s beauty salon paved the way for this innovative project.
Why mental health is important to Lorenzo
Lorenzo is a husband, father, and community leader. He’s also been diagnosed with depression. He has family members who have been diagnosed as Bipolar and struggle with substance abuse and incarceration.
But Lorenzo also knows what recovery looks and feels like. That’s why he’s designed a system that Black men and families can be a part of. Lorenzo is still walking his healing journey and wants others around him to be able to do the same.
He’s learned that you have to take a chance and shoot for the unbelievable. By the end of the year, he’ll have trained over 1,000 barbers. They’re excited to continue exploring the unthinkable and continue changing lives.
Providing resources and training to barbers
Each barber that’s part of Lorenzo’s organization is provided with a monthly support call. They’re able to attend training centered around life skills, mental health education, fatherhood, and other topics. Lorenzo sees it becoming an association of barbers across the country. Each call is meant to help them reset and gain perspective.
They’re committed to educating the barbers with the best research. The Confess Project is constantly innovating and taking cutting-edge research and non-traditional activities and applying them to speak to their demographic. They want to reach the next generation of young people.
What can you do today to positively impact your mental health? How has The Confess Project impacted young men? What are the next steps for The Confess Project? Lorenzo shares much more in this episode—give it a listen.
Resources & People Mentioned
- The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
Connect with Lorenzo Lewis
- The Confess Project website
- The Confess Project on Instagram
- The Confess Project on Facebook
- Lorenzo’s website
- Lorenzo on Instagram
- Lorenzo on Facebook
Born in jail to an incarcerated mother, Lorenzo struggled with depression, anxiety, and anger throughout his youth, to the point of being at-risk for re-entering the system. From this, Lorenzo grew The Confess Project, an initiative that confronts the stigma around mental health for men of color. Since May 2016, The Confess Project has reached over 30,000 individuals in 13 Cities heavily focused in the Southern and Midwest Regions of the United States. The Confess Project is partnering with Gillette to reach 1 million individuals across the entire nation. TCP has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, CNN, NBC, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and many more. Lorenzo’s project takes a two-sided approach, researching the issues within the individual and within society. Lorenzo’s life story and his life’s work give him a unique perspective on behavioral health and the social science issues surrounding the Black male identity.
Guests on the Mitlin Money Mindset Show are not affiliated with CWM, LLC, and opinions expressed herein may not be representative of CWM, LLC. CWM, LLC is not responsible for the guest’s content linked on this site.
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