#BellLetsTalk: why I cannot go along to get along with mining mental illness for marketing
These ‘Let’s Talk’ tweets and Facebook updates brought to you by a telecom that uses mental illness and honest-to-goodness sometimes crippling emotional challenges as part of a fucking BRANDING EXERCISE is galling.
(Note: Tumblr is being fussy, so I reposted this with new thoughts.)
I know all you mean well and have naught but goodwill in your hearts, but please think about it. I get that it raises money and awareness and might create more conservation than a simple donation. ‘Maybe so, but does anyone wonder how it’s received by someone who is depressed when people fire off a tweet, “[Blank]LetsTalk,” without saying anything else. That does not show sensitivity or concern; that’s something done out of obligation. And why is their damn corporate name at the front of it? Brilliant marketing gimmick, sure, but it implies there’s profit to be mined from your pain that you have carried mostly privately for your whole adult life. Today is the only day to we have for you, you have to talk about it our schedule. Well, when do I see a residual?
The rub is that Bell already has a set amount for a donation built into its budget. This boils down to, “Shill for us or we withhold a portion of our donation.” This has, not for nothing, been called charity by ransom, only it’s done one nickel at a time.
So it does not bring me any peace or make my day any easier. I do not look forward to Feb. 12. I dread it worse than Feb. 14 now!
I can only speak for myself; maybe it helps others. Let us hope so.
It’s debatable whether this makes it better, although I have contended as much out of emotion, for which I am truly sorry. People are smarter than that, of course. It just feels like some people who don’t know better are getting taken for a bigger ride than the people who wore those Lance Armstrong yellow cheater bracelets a few years ago. Read Pink Ribbons, Inc.; perhaps this is the best worst way that the world works… extracting real pain for a PR exercise. It’s like strip-mining people!
I fail to see how this one-day-a-year will have any traction that fosters any greater understanding of depression. There has been progress, sure, and perhaps I’m bitter because it did not start until well after the worst of my troubles. But this does not lead to any research into alternative therapies. Or affordable drugs which can help someone manage her/his condition. You know if you don’t have a family doctor in Ottawa, you cannot go to a walk-in clinic for a mental health issue to get a referral so you can get OHIP-covered counselling? It’s not on the checklist. You could look it up.
(Update, January 2014: fortunately I finally got a family doctor and I have started getting therapy for depression and social phobia.)
It sure as hell doesn’t convince our politicians — over a period of several years, our great Ontario government dedicated a whole 1.5 per cent of its health-care budget to mental health, really — that they should put any more resources toward the problem.
I know a lot of people have been affected by mental illness much, much worse than I have, both personally and by association. There’s no knowing what they feel about this day because I am sure the marketing mavens at said telecom never talked to them before they came up with this great idea.
I’m speaking because I can. And if you tell me I shouldn’t talk about this and should just go along to get along, congrats on missing the point, fully completely.