The Northern Advocate

Woman shaves 13-year dreadlocks for mental health awareness


Aotearoa New Zealand has some of the highest youth suicide rates in the world, something that Olsen wants to see change.

“Mental health is even more important than physical health,” she said.

“It feels like only in my lifetime that it’s starting to be more acceptable but there’s still stigma around it.”

Her daughters, Moana and Ariel, may be hesitant about a dread-free mum, but Olsen has been supported hugely by the small-business community, family and friends.

“Everyone’s just been amazing with the support, the positive comments,” she said.

Olsen said showing her daughters why she was shaving her headwas important.

She explained to them: “When you get a hurt body part or if you feel sick, we go to the doctor and we get the right medicine or we get the surgery at the hospital.

“But I said, at the moment, if you have hurt and soreness in your heart and your feelings, there’s not many doctors around to help you feel better, so that’s why we’re doing this to try and raise some money so especially other young people, if they feel like sick in their heart and their feelings, they can get help straight away so they don’t feel sad.”

Olsen said speaking to people working in the health sector, “they’re just overwhelme­d, and it’s crisis point for them.

“Everyone’s under resourced, and everyone’s at the end of their tether and at the point of their own mental health crisis.”

The givealittl­e page for Olsen’s venture has so far raised over $5700, and will remain open for donations until February next year.

While she told the Advocate any donation is amazing, she would love to see an amount of $13,000 raised for each year of growing her dreads.

“They’re such a huge part of my identity,” she said.

“At first I was having some big fat cries at night, like you know, I love my dreads.

“It’s what I’ve always wanted, it’s not that I was ready to not have dreadlocks, but I am excited to experience swimming in the ocean and towelling my head and it being dry,” she laughed.

“I just feel so overwhelme­d with so much gratitude for the people that came and supported,” she said.

“I was filled with so much love from everyone here, and seeing that in everyone’s eyes as it was happening and just really feeling that energy and that love.”

And as for what she’s going to do with them?

“I’ve always joked that I’m going to sew them into a beanie or a hat and then whip it off and freak people out,” Olsen said.

She plans to run a competitio­n at her sandwich and coffee bar, Hello Pickle, on its Facebook page, where people can guess how heavy the dreads are to win a voucher.

● If you wish to donate go to givealittl­

"It’s not that I was ready to not have dreadlocks, but I am excited to experience swimming in the ocean and towelling my head and it being dry."

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand