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Five people with experience of mental illness have enjoyed an ego-boosting makeover and a photo modelling session, thanks to a collaborative effort by NorthTec and Northland District Health Board.
NorthTec nursing tutor, Joanna Davison, was approached by Liz Denton, community mental health nurse for Te Roopu Whitiora (Māori mental health team) and Jane Simperingham, Professional Nurse Leader for mental health services for Northland DHB.
The nurses had been inspired by a recent mental health nursing conference presentation which featured a woman with a mental illness who had always wanted to be a bride. The client was given a “bridal makeover” with a professional photoshoot and was left delighted with the results. It was proposed that a similar trial project could be undertaken with NorthTec and Te Roopu Whitiora.
Four female clients and one male came to NorthTec’s Raumanga campus, where they were treated to a styling session with the student hairdressers. The women were also professionally made up, before modelling for a photography student. All received professional photos of themselves post-makeover.
One makeover recipient, Rachel (not her real name) said she and her two friends had been excited about the makeover. She had her hair washed and styled – only the second time her hair had been professionally straightened – before moving on to the beauty salon for a make-up session.
Rachel, 30, said the experience was “awesome” and had inspired her to do something similar with her friends on a monthly basis. She thought she might put the photos of herself on her mirror, so she would always be reminded of what she looked like at her best.
She said: “It’s about making you feel good about yourself. When you have a bad day you can look at the photo and say ‘that’s me’.”
Hare Munro, from Whangarei, said he was really excited about coming to the NorthTec salon for a haircut and photo session and the experience had made him “feel like a star”.
Hare, 37, said: “I am trying to be an inspiration for other people out there. It’s about being positive, you have got to move on with your life and get yourself sorted. I want to be a good role model for my kids so I am doing all I can to make myself well and stay strong.”
Hare’s message for anyone struggling with mental illness is: “Kia kaha – keep strong and keep trying.”
Joanna Davison said: “The primary goal was to create positive representations for the clients to have around their homes, to help improve their self-esteem and help develop a positive self-image. It’s also about promoting a sense of social inclusion – one client said she had never been to a salon before.
“A second goal was about de-stigmatising mental illness, as stigma and prejudice are often the biggest issue, and people with mental illness can feel really isolated. So the students were not aware that they were working on people with mental health issues and were only told afterwards.
“The response from the students was very positive and they were thrilled to have been able to make a difference, and wanted the clients involved to come back again for some more pampering and to feel good about themselves.”
A wider goal is to eventually produce an exhibition of makeover photos, to challenge stereotypes around mental illness. The project was the result of collaboration between the DHB and NorthTec’s health and beauty, arts and nursing departments.
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