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What to do in a hairy situation


Jun 10, 2020

Salon manager Alicia Amsler wants people in the beauty and fashion industries to have conversations around mental health and suicide awareness.

“As a business leader and salon owner for 20 years, I lost an employee from suicide and just didn’t know what to do. After that I also lost a friend of mine that was a bartender who took her life. Then I watched my Mum go through a deep depression. Being a hairdresser behind the chair you’re dealing with people all the time that are struggling with so many things. So instead of not understanding, I decided to move towards it and get educated.”

Alicia trained as a LivingWorks safeTALK trainer and loves the program. “Every single person has different layers just like an onion, and with healthy recovery you are able to help that person take layers of things that need to be paid attention to and deal with so you can actually get to their mental health. We want to get people to where they need to go. We use LivingWorks trainings and it’s just awesome what LivingWorks is doing to save lives.”

She uses the training as part of her non-profit, Runway2Life. Their mission is to encourage people to engage in conversation on mental health and suicide awareness, as well as provide resources and education. Runway2life educates hairdressers to see the signs while talking to their clients. It also teachers salon owners and hairdressers to catch signs from each other, saving lives in the process.

The non-profit also holds an annual fashion show in Richmond, Virginia where some of the models and behind-the-scenes makeup artists and hairdressers have had experience with suicide loss and mental health challenges. Big name companies such as Redken, Pureology, and others sponsor the event and it acts as a way to open up the conversation about suicide and mental health. Alicia is also working in other areas such as hotels, churches, and bars to connect these establishments to resources.

When asked what she would say to others that would like to part of the solution to lowering stigma on talking about suicide and mental health, she has a ready answer, “If you’re feeling led to do something, that’s probably your first instinct that you should. If you’re feeling that nudge to do something, fear can lock us out. It’s a liar. Fear is a liar.” She is indeed fearless.

Find her on Instagram and Facebook for more inspiration and ways you too can get involved. This year’s fashion show is October 9, 2020 and will be virtual so people from all over the world can watch. For information on LivingWorks training, read here. And during these stressful times of COVID-19, we have lowered the price of our new online program, LivingWorks Start, with a percentage of proceeds going to suicide prevention organizations struggling during the pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Runway2Life