Ok, I want to say that I’ve been on the criticizing ‘Bell Lets Talk’ train for years and this is my final stand because now everyone’s doing it and I’m going to have to stop as a result.
Bell’s corporate fuzzy wuzzy mental health campaign #LetsTalk again went temporarily Canadian viral three days ago, giving those that don’t normally have a platform or voice to discuss their mental health a charitable and safe space in which to do so. Each year, Bell donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives for each social media post that uses the hashtag #BellLetsTalk (notice the BELL in that hashtag. Always remember that BELL gave you a voice, not TELUS.)
I don’t deny that this whole thing has a positive effect on mental health funding and anti-stigma awareness for a massive number of normies. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t a non-profit altruistic grassroots campaign. It’s corporate, and has more to do with marketing than we would like to believe. This is why we should continue to voice our concerns about the narrow inclusivity of the campaign and the intentions behind it.
But for every journalist making their deadlines by complaining that the hashtag posts clog up their news feeds; your 57-year-old boss might think that’s funny, but it’s useless and ultimately detrimental.
As someone who is outwardly vocal about their mental health year-round, this year I took #LetsTalk day as a day off, to sit back and listen to those around me who don’t often desire or feel as able to talk about their mental health on a regular basis.
Then something happened. The cynical hipster heart in me grew three sizes that day seeing my peers and colleagues discuss their experiences and extend support to each other. Girls who picked on me in high school posted on Facebook about their struggles with anxiety and body images issues, and instead of feeling righteous and vengeful, I felt empathetic.
Of course, there are holes in the concept. There’s no way that Bell can include all of the demographics that it should (e.g., LGBTQ or impoverished people) because it’s a giant circle jerk, but on a smaller scale, does it really matter what gets us talking if it’s more important that we’re just talking in the first place?
I might be taking the whole corporate sponsorship thing too lightly because as a Media Savy Millenial, I have serious doubts that a social justice campaign with a marketing undercurrent would have an effect on sales to other members of my generation.
Maybe I’m seeing it as a way that we in the mental health awareness movement can take advantage of the resources that Big Bell can provide. Maybe I’m not seeing the sinister extent of what it really is because I’m blinded by my own lack of persuasion. But maybe just maybe, we’re giving the generation that’s now currently coming of age an outlet to express themselves in a way that we never had, and that excites me.
If you or a loved one you know battles with any Mental Health Issues, please do get the help you need. If you need to talk to someone now, you can talk to one of the many fantastic therapists at Better Help by CLICKING HERE.
This post was created with the help of Grammarly.