Monday, 1 February 2016

Thoughts After Let's Talk Day

Last week was the Let's Talk Day for mental health.  The stated goal is to change the stigma around mental health issues so that people will be more comfortable asking for help and others will be more willing to accommodate.

I did a post about why I think it's difficult for people to accept and understand the difference between their own experience and the experiences of those with mental health issues.

This weekend, I was catching up on some PVRed shows and I caught a number of this year's Let's Talk commercials, the ones which show what the person is thinking and then having a change of heart when they learn there is an actual condition behind the other person's behaviour.  There were two getting the most air time: a pair of construction workers talking about a colleague with bipolar disorder and a pair of women in the office where one is asking the other for time off to deal with depression (or something similar, it's not specified).

Something about these commercials was bothering me this year and I think I've put my finger on it.  I think they would discourage people with issues from coming forward because they emphasize the greatest fear: that other people will think you are weak for not being able to cope.

There are at least four unsympathetic "thoughts" shown before the final understanding moment.  And those thoughts epitomize the reasons why people don't ask for help: other people will be resentful, it looks like asking for special treatment, no one will understand.

I would guess that these commercials were designed to influence the rest of the population, by encouraging them to change how they react.  I'm not sure if that's the best way to do so.  I probably would have preferred something where the conversation is overlaid with images of the person dealing with the challenges, so that it's clearer that the impressions are unfair.

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