"Let's Talk".

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

If you live in Canada, you'll have heard about "Bell Let's Talk", an fundraising initiative to address the stigma surrounding mental health.  The campaign is led by Bell Canada, one of the leading telecommunication companies in this country.  Every January Bell launches their "Let's Talk" campaign, and every January I consider shutting down my social media accounts because I just can't deal with the hypocrisy.

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Let me be clear - I am all for raising money to support mental health research and service provision in Canada. I am definitely for challenging and eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health in our society. God knows we need it.  What I'm against is the way that everyone on my Facebook friends list decides to try on the social justice warrior armour for the day, campaigning against stigma for 24 hours, before returning to endorsing ableism, sexism, racism, and every other -ism on the planet.  I can't deny that Bell Let's Talk is successful as a fundraising initiative, but in my (very strong) opinion, it fails incredibly in the 'challenging stigma' department.

I feel that Bell Let's Talk (and all of the other social media movements of this nature) is an opportunity for people to hop onto a social justice fad.  You know, tweet a few times, use the popular hashtag, look good for the day, and then go back to living life the way you always have.  Stigma surrounding mental health can't be challenged and eradicated in a day - it's an entity that has evolved over decades.  Talking about stigma isn't enough - we have to actually get up and do something about it.

I'm challenging myself (and anyone else who would like to join me) to stop talking, and start doing something about stigma.  Challenging stigma goes beyond tweeting, texting and talking - it means challenging the ways that we think and talk about mental health challenges and the people who live with them.  And it shouldn't just happen once a year - challenging stigma needs to become a part of our daily routine for the rest of our lives.

 Cheers to challenging,

xoxo, Jayy.

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