Leaders from Indiana’s African-American and health communities are joining in a statewide initiative aimed at lowering the mortality rate among African-American men.
A recent study by the Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males found that African-American men have the highest mortality rate of any ethnic group in the state.
In an effort to reach out to that population, the Commission is sponsoring the Black Barbershop Health Initiative. The Commission is partnering with community organizations to offer free blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose diabetes screenings at 44 barbershops across the state Saturday.
Commission executive director James Garrett says barbershops provide a relaxed and conversational atmosphere.
“You know, they’ll talk politics, they’ll talk sports, they’ll talk current events…okay, well let’s talk about your health,” he says.
State senator Greg Taylor is a Commission member and says to address the health of black Hoosiers, they must confront old ways of thinking.
“Sometimes as men we feel like it’s not manly to go to a doctor when we feel a little pain,” he says.
The initiative is now in its second year. Last year, around six hundred men participated. This year, with an expanded presence, the Commission hopes to reach out to more than a thousand African American men.
In Bloomington, Razor’s Image Barbershop at 223 Pete Ellis Drive will host health screenings from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday.