LIFE

Teen's Hair Transformation Shows The Physical Impact Depression Can Have

'We finally made this beautiful girl smile.'

11/08/2017 6:55 PM AEST | Updated 11/08/2017 7:01 PM AEST

A hairdresser has shared before and after photos of her client’s hair with a poignant message about mental health.

Kayley Olsson, from Waterloo, Iowa, was asked to cut the 16-year-old’s hair for her school picture day.

When the anonymous patient arrived, Olsson discovered that the young woman was living with depression, which sometimes made her feel so low that she couldn’t even bring herself to brush her hair. 

Olsson spent 13 hours in total tending to her young client’s hair and later shared before and after photos on Facebook, which have received more than 76,000 reactions.

“Today I had one of the hardest experiences with my client,” Olsson wrote on Facebook.

“I had a 16-year-old girl come in who has been dealing with severe depression for a few years now. She got to the point where she felt so down and so worthless she couldn’t even brush her hair, she told me she only got up to use the restroom.”

The hairdresser explained that her client was due to start back at school in a few weeks but was going in for a school picture - hence the haircut. 

“When she walked in she told us ‘just cut it all off, I can’t deal with the pain of combing it out’. She called herself worthless for it,” Olsson explained. 

“It honestly broke my heart and we tried everything we could to keep this child’s hair for her.”

After spending 13 hours in total on the young woman’s hair, Olsson said her client smiled and said: “I will actually smile for my school’s pictures today, you made me feel like me again.”

The hairdresser urged people to take mental health more seriously. One in six people will experience depression in their lifetime and it is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.

“Mental health is a thing, it affects people all around the world and of all ages,” she wrote. “Parents, take it seriously, don’t just push your kids off and tell them to get over something they legitimately can’t. A child should never feel so worthless to not even want to brush their hair.

“After being here eight hours yesterday and five hours today we finally made this beautiful girl smile and feel like she IS worth something.”

Useful websites and helplines:
  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk
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