Laurel Hounslow is a staunch advocate for depression awareness and suicide prevention, and to prove it she’s raising money for charity by dyeing her hair blue, one streak at a time.
The issue is one that’s close to the Saanich woman’s heart. Her daughter, Robin Farr, began suffering from postpartum depression in 2008. Farr’s illness became so severe it nearly tore her family apart.
“None of us recognized what the problem was,” Hounslow said. “We didn’t know what was going on.”
Fortunately for Farr, she was able to get the help she needed, and she now maintains a blog called Farewell Stranger, where she writes openly about her struggle.
“She’s now calling herself a postpartum depression survivor,” Hounslow said. “She had the courage to say I suffered from this, I went through some things and I almost lost my family.”
Hounslow’s knowledge of depression’s impact inspired her to take action to help raise awareness of the issue. In September she launched a campaign to raise $4,000 for the Vancouver Island Crisis Line, with the caveat that she would put a blue streak in her hair for each $1,000. If she reaches her goal, she’s planning to go all-blue.
But just as meaningful to Hounslow as the money raised is that her campaign is putting an important issue in the spotlight.
“People are coming up to me in the grocery store and saying, ‘You’re the blue hair lady!’ and telling me really personal stuff,” she said. “I’m a grassroots person, so it’s been quite an experience.”
Hounslow recently added the Victoria Women’s Transition House as a beneficiary of her efforts, citing a belief that domestic violence and depression are linked.
As for her role in advancing the dialogue on mental health issues, Hounslow noted she’s just one person among many.
“What I would like to see is a nationwide depression awareness campaign that really gets to the grassroots,” she said. “I feel it’s ordinary people on the street that have to start talking about it.”