Working at Ocean Mental Health Services for the last four and a half years has taught me so much about the mental health field and the community in which we live and work. As a case manager, whenever I was in public with consumers, I noticed the way certain individuals would look with judgment, hurry past or the more obvious aversion of turning the other way. It was clear these avoidance tactics and uncomfortable interactions were taking a toll on the consumers self-esteem and confidence. There is only so much we can do to help our consumers develop confidence but I wanted to do more.
I noticed that many of our consumers have goals to go back to work. It occurred to me the stigma they experience could affect their chances of obtaining employment. I wanted to do something to help my clients feel more confident, to build their self-esteem and make them feel proud of who they are. After observing one of the consumer giving the male peers new haircuts and how the males responded, i.e., excitement to show off new haircut and increased self-esteem. Having a positive self-image is an important aspect of boosting self-esteem and feeling confident when walking into a job interview. Unfortunately for the female consumers, a simple buzzer was not enough; these women needed corrective coloring and haircuts.
I applied to the Ocean Cares Foundation to receive funding for the female consumers of the Wave program to obtain haircuts and corrective coloring. We were able to receive funding so that six women could experience a “Girls’ Day Out” and spend the day at a salon getting pampered and feeling special. This past week we took three of the women to Tina’s Cuts in Brick, NJ where they left feeling confident and happy. For one woman, this was her first time ever going to a salon and she cried when Tina revealed her new look. Everyone had such a great day with these ladies and really enjoyed seeing them have a fun filled “Girls’ Day Out.” They all walked out in high-spirits and with a positive self-image.
A huge thank you to Ocean Cares and Tina for making this day a huge success for some very deserving women!