*Warning- may contain unpopular opinion*
I “talk” about mental illness on this blog (in some form or another) almost every day. So today I asked myself- why should I support a company and do the same thing? The 5 cents that Bell is donating for every re-tweet or text message etc, equals a lot when it’s all added up. If I don’t retweet their slogan, that 5 cents is lost. Obviously the idea is that Bell only wants to donate 5 cents for every person who “talks” about mental health. But by “talking” they really mean, supporting their corporate campaign.
If donating towards mental health initiatives can only occur through the sharing of a brand or logo, then we are perpetuating a capitalist society through a capitalist marketing strategy. And one could argue that capitalism and its effects can be attributed to poor mental health in ‘developed’ nations.
As well, one must ask questions concerning convenience. When and why is it only convenient to advocate for mental health over social media during certain times of the year? And why use social networking to boost a campaign? Through social networking, Bell can reach a mass amount of people, and raise awareness at lighting speed, all while keeping the cause central to the theme of their business. It’s smart. But does social networking really equate to talking?
Am I going to feel more comfortable approaching someone about an issue because I saw that they retweeted #BellLetsTalk? Probably not. (Internalized stigma and shame run a lot deeper than that.) I know exactly how easy and how mind numbing it can be to press a button on a laptop or phone-not much thought goes into it. Of course, I’m not trying to denounce online activism and awareness that takes place in the twitterverse. Social media is powerful. But I question the power of social media when it is- in a sense- being controlled by equally powerful businesses.
There is no doubt that Bell has donated millions of dollars towards mental health programs (on one hand, I applaud them) but regardless, it is important to ask questions about marketing strategies, especially when not for profit organizations (who started their organizations for their initial cause) employ year round efforts to raise awareness around mental illness, yet their causes gain less attention and less social networking support than causes run by larger corporations.
Is it worthwhile to even ask questions? Especially when every effort counts in regards to ending mental health stigma? I would argue, yes. But of course the majority will disagree.