Sunday, 11 December 2016

It isn't anything awareness month

You might have noticed lately, depending on where you are and who your friends are on social media, that it appears to be some kind of Mental Illness awareness month. I Googled it (so you know, in terms of qualifications, I basically asked God), and it seems it isn't actually anything awareness month. In the UK, we have Mental Health Awareness Week in May. In the USA, it gets a whole month, which is also May and less officially, October. So you see how it might be weird to keep seeing things about it in December. 
Now, I'm not stupid and I'm not being mean. I want to say that all awareness is good awareness. But no one can tell me that the post I saw this week, is in any way positive:
I think Mental illness is one of these illnesses that people just don't really understand:
Everyone says: " If you need anything, don't hesitate, I'll be there for you ". Perhaps you'd like to copy this and send onto others.
It's mental illness awareness month and I've done this for friends and family for whom this has been all too real.

There's so much wrong with this post. The fact that it refers to Mental Illness as 'one' illness. The sweeping way it is suggested that few people understand. The fact that it is not in any way clear what its point is. And you know, saying it's May when Christmas is around the corner. This was posted by a friend who I respect very much. She's a qualified therapist and mental health nurse, she's lovely and she seriously knows her stuff. I know she didn't write this post, but she no doubt fell victim to the idea that all awareness is good awareness and a quick post is all it needs to help save the world.

The idea behind posts like this, and the simple lists of suicide hotlines that people are posting without any other comment is that they're spreading awareness and letting it be known that they are there for people. The trouble is, especially with a post like the above example, that it would seriously put me off approaching one of these people with my problems. No doubt their intentions are good but perhaps these things need more focus. Rather than badly written sweeping statements, people could learn about particular mental health issues in more detail and then help to spread awareness of those. 

I'd love it if I opened Facebook and one of my friends was posting about Anhedonia, self-harm, and Hypomania, that would be educational. For now, I'll have to settle for commenting on crappy posts that broadly cover nothing at all.  

No comments:

Post a Comment