A hairdresser refused to shave off a depressed teenager's hair and instead spent 13 hours fixing it for her instead.

Kayley Olsson, a student hairdresser in Waterloo, Iowa, recently shared a story on Facebook that has touched the hearts of millions about a depressed teenager who came to sit in her salon chair.

The 20-year-old explained the 16-year-old had been dealing with severe depression for years and felt so worthless that she couldn't even brush her own hair.

The unnamed teen asked Olsson to just shave her head in time for her school's picture day but the hairdresser refused and spent 13 hours fixing it for her, the MailOnline reported.

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Olsson shared the heart-warming story with her Facebook followers on Tuesday, as a reminder that mental illness affects people of all ages.

The hairdresser, who attends cosmetology school at Capri Waterloo, has garnered more than 208,000 likes, 78,000 shares and more than 11,200 comments on the post.

Olsson began her story by saying it was one of the most challenging experiences that she ever had and said she chose to keep the teen anonymous.

Instead, the girl's hairdresser spent 13 hours over two days fixing her hair so it would look good on picture day on Tuesday. Pictured: After shots of the teen's hair. Photo / Facebook
Instead, the girl's hairdresser spent 13 hours over two days fixing her hair so it would look good on picture day on Tuesday. Pictured: After shots of the teen's hair. Photo / Facebook

She wrote: "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.

"She starts back at school in a few weeks but she has her school pictures today. 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.

"It honestly broke my heart and we tried everything we could to keep this child's hair for her! At the end of the day I want this to be a lesson to people."

Olsson continued: "MENTAL HEALTH is a thing, it affects people all around the world and of all ages! 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 8 hours yesterday and 5 hours today we finally made this beautiful girl smile and feel like she IS worth something!

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"Her last words to me was 'I will actually smile for my school's pictures today, you made me feel like me again'."

Social media users have cheered Olsson for sharing the story and helping the young woman.

Mary Litchfield wrote: "You did a beautiful job. Most people who have taken the easy way and just cut her hair and told her stat (sic) fresh. But you took the time and invested time she needed to be invested in her for her to know she has beauty and value."

Nicole Miller Lardy added: "Wow! I had a client like this... in the past but she was an older lady, bed ridden.... totally gave me a new perspective on being a stylist when she cried from being so thankful."

Kayley Olsson, a 20-year-old student hairdresser, shared the story with her Facebook followers as a reminder that mental health illness affects people of all ages. Photo / Facebook
Kayley Olsson, a 20-year-old student hairdresser, shared the story with her Facebook followers as a reminder that mental health illness affects people of all ages. Photo / Facebook

Recent studies show that depression rates have rocketed among young people, 11.3 per cent of 12- to 17-year-olds have untreated depression, up from 8.7 per cent in 2005.

However, the number of teenagers being treated for depression remains unchanged, according to a recent study published in the journal Paediatrics.

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757