Depression Hurts

With over 2 million views depressionhurts.ca is the most popular information source on depression. This website has many categories that contribute to learning and dealing with depression. It has information that is useful to those who feel they may have depression, people with depression and family and friends of those dealing with the illness. Of course, people who may want to learn more about the condition can also view this website.

What is first important about this site is that it immediately conveys the purpose of the site – depression hurts. It does. It is to the fault of no one when this illness takes it forms, but it may affect many in a single case. Learning about how to manage it from the perspective of the sufferer and the peers that surround them is extremely important. Ignoring the signs and not dealing with them when they manifest themselves can lead to a worsen condition and create other problems i.e. addiction. Depressionhurts.ca has five categories in their site; What is depression?, Could it be depression?, Managing your depression, journey to improvement and information for family and friends. These are the categories that help manage the signs of depression amongst sufferers and their peers.

The way that this site battles the stigma about mental illness is provide information about depression, information that is geared towards those who may have it and the peers of someone who has the illness. I believe that providing those who are around someone with depression with information about the illness is actually most important. More important than providing society as a whole with general information for example. The reason why giving information to direct peers of a sufferer is important is because those are the first ones who have the opportunity to help one with their illness. They are the first line of defense, so to speak, when it comes to providing support and eliminating the daunting feeling of isolation and hollowing sadness. A parent or a friend without knowledge of how to handle depression can worsen the situation for the sufferer. In any case, not just someone with mental illness, family and friends are the ones who are most influential when it comes to socializing a person. We all are influenced by our peers likes and dislikes and attitudes. So when a negative attitude towards depression is shown to someone suffering from depression, it is taken as an insult first, and second a statement that depression is not something that matters and should not be in their mind.

Learning about depression for these reasons is important. It is all part of the fight to end the stigma around mental illness. Depressionhurts.ca does the most effective job in doing this. The popularity of their site is noteworthy as well, as mentioned it has over 2 millions views. If even half of those views learned something, then this website has done an effective job in removing the stigma around mental illness.

Link: http://depressionhurts.ca/en/default.aspx#

Connecting With Social Media

Social Media Can Connect Those With Severe Mental Illness: http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/10/20/social-media-can-connect-those-with-severe-mental-illness/76380.html

The link above is to an article online that discusses how people with mental illnesses use social media sites as a way of coping with their illness and supporting others with their illness. This article was written based on research that was done by the Dartmouth Institute, which advances in the learning and creating new practices to deal with many subjects in the medical field.

Perhaps the most intriguing finding in their article was the finding of the fact that people with severe mental illness are much more open about their illness on social media. YouTube was the social media platform of focus in this article. It was found that people with illnesses like schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, or bipolar disorder were comfortable with using YouTube to share stories and offer advice to other sufferers. What is interesting about this finding is that these are the people who in public, are considered to be the most shy and in most cases embarrassed about their illnesses. But what this study has found that they can be much more open on social media sites. They appear to not be concerned about the risk that is involved in openly sharing their personal stories and they focus their efforts to helping others with their illness.

The reason for this, as the study theorizes, is that people on the social media site feel less alone because they are a part of an online community that has the same experiences as them. This feeling of being a part of a group like this also can create hope for the sufferers as they hear stories of those who have had success with a certain kind of medicine or treatment. The use of social media has thus shown to overcome fears of living with such an illness and creates a strong sense of belonging amongst these individuals.

I believe that this is a brilliant use of social media for those with mental illnesses. I know first hand the feeling of isolation and feeling of not belonging. It is a scary and dangerous feeling that does need to be addressed in some way. A few other posts on this blog has mentioned this feeling of isolation and has also talked about how it is important to talk with someone who has shared similar experiences, because they are the ones who truly can understand. What this use of social media does is address that exact problem, and provides itself with beneficial solutions to overcoming and coping with the illness. Defeating the stigma of mental illness doesn’t happen without internal support of one another from its sufferers, this use of social media provides that necessary support.

Mental Health Commission

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a leader in providing support for those with mental illnesses as well as changing the views on mental illness in society. What I want to focus on in this post is how they have used new media technology to change the ways that mental illness is looked at by the general public. Their use of new media consists of having a strong social media presence on twitter.

To fight the stigma of mental illness, certain criteria must be met. First, people have to respect that mental illness is in fact an illness that cannot be controlled like most people think. Second, it must be shown that other people in the community are taking action to help treat people with mental illness. The reason why this is important is because it gains momentum for treating the illness and fighting the stigma. When people see other citizens helping in a certain way for a cause, then it creates the want to help in themselves as well as the realization that this cause does need support. So let’s investigate if the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) meets this criteria with their social media presence.

A major step that the MHCC has done to defeat the stigma around mental illness is start, and advocate for, The Working Mind program. This program addresses and promotes mental health and reduces the stigma of mental health in the workplace. This program has been advocated for in a major ways by constant tweets, and having representatives talk about the program on CBC news. It has caught fire because of this campaigning as provinces like Nova Scotia has implemented this program to over 20,000 workers in the province. In addition to advocating for their program the MHCC also tweets out many articles in improving mental health all around the community. Also initiatives in communities are also tweeted about to let their many followers know what initiatives are going on in their area.

So when we examine the criteria that I believe is needed to end the stigma of mental illness, we can see that the MHCC matches the criteria. Firstly, they have done a great job on appearing on CBC news multiple times to discuss their initiatives. This directly impacts the way people view mental illness as it is being discussed right before them on popular news segments like The National on CBC news. Secondly, by tweeting about community initiatives and their Working Mind program and its effectiveness, they are showing just how many people are taking seriously the need to support mental illness.

The MHCC has the mission of promoting mental health in Canada, changing social attitudes towards mental health and improving services and support. This cannot be done without recognition of their organization and programs. In today’s information age the way to market your organization is through the use of new media technologies. The MHCC has used twitter in a very effective way, and has made great progress in ending the stigma around mental illness.

Links:

Web: http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mhcc_

New Life Outlook

When dealing with a chronic illness, help is something that cannot come soon enough. Of course everyone hears that there is support but the image of that support consists of someone on the other end of the phone trying to understand what the person is going through. It isn’t always enough just having someone be there for you. People with chronic illnesses need to be understood, and for the most part whenever they receive help from someone who doesn’t understand exactly what they’re going through, it is of no help at all. So when there is a nice lady on the other end of the phone help line and a sufferer is opening up to them, the sufferer shares their problems with the understanding that the other person doesn’t understand. The feeling of isolation remains prevalent.

It is an interesting thought to realize that the person who is trained to help you doesn’t always know what you’re going through. Especially when you start to think about the stigma of mental illness. Let me be clear, I appreciate all the men and women and organizations who do the services that they do to help those with mental illnesses. But there is only so much that they can do without knowing exactly what the sufferer is going through. The organizations do not aid to the stigma, of course not, but other than raising awareness to the general public, they do not help the stigma to those who are directly suffering from a mental illness. However, there is one group who does.

New life outlook is an online community who helps people to live with their conditions. They have staff and stories from members who have had, and currently have the same illnesses that their clients have. They center their program around people with; ADHD, COPD, depression, lupus and fibromyalgia. This online community lets the members share their stories and support each other. Anyone who signs up (for free of course) can join the community and share their experiences with their illness, as well as provide any support to fellow members. Conversations are constantly happening on this site and it is uplifting to read, “I have just felt an incredible sense of relief reading this story identified every thing I’ve been living with. I don’t feel as isolated.” “I need all the support, and encouragement from those who know just how hard it is to quit and stay tobacco free. I can be of support too We CAN do this together.”

The way that New Life Outlook uses new media technology to reach its members is by creating discussion boards found on their website and different social media channel (links will be provided to their sites). Furthermore, all these gateways to their discussion boards are smartphone friendly, meaning someone can get the help and provide help, from wherever they are. New Life Outlook has done a great job in providing this community for people with similar experiences from the same illness. As previous posts on this blog has discussed how the stigma of mental illness is being fought in the general public sphere, this website and community is fighting the stigma of mental illness internally by removing the feeling of isolation amongst its sufferers.

Links:

Web: http://www.newlifeoutlook.com/

Fibromyalgia Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newlifeoutlook.fibromyalgia?fref=nf

Depression Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newlifeoutlook.depression

ADHD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newlifeoutlook.adhd

Lupus Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newlifeoutlook.lupus

COPD Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/newlifeoutlook.copd

Saying When

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s leading hospital for mental health treatment. In that post it was discussed how they have used the new media and technology that has come into mainstream society (blog posts) to share with the public what they do to treat mental illness and rid the stigma of mental illness. This post will discuss how they have taken the use of new media and technology further in creating their own app for iPhone. It is called, the ‘Saying When’ app. It is a successful program that helps you take charge in determining how much you drink. So of course, the mental illness that is of focus here is addiction.

I want to discuss why it is important to focus on addiction. The reason why this is a key area of focus is because it is not one of the main types of mental illness that is mentioned in mainstream discussion. Usually the mainstream forms of mental illness are; depression, anxiety, bi-polar, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), etc. Addiction as a mental disorder can cover a number of subcategories as well such as alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling and many more. With great reviews this app seems to be a great coping mechanism for alcohol addiction. Seeing addiction like this first hand I know the harm it poses onto the addict and to those around them, so it seems that this app is readily available for someone who suffers from addiction.

This is a self help technique in dealing with addiction. The app is based off of the very successful book that has been around for 20 years. There are many features of this app that are geared toward ending addiction; self-assessment, personalized goals, monitoring your urges to drink, tracking your drinks, tips for success and checkups.  Furthermore, the app also provides links to services if the person is in need of more support, which is a very good way of helping a person with this type of case because what this app may lack is the personable touch that is looked for by most people.

What is impressive by CAMH in creating this app is that it is based off of a book that has been around for 20 years. The reason why this is impressive and important to note is because it speaks volume to the way that CAMH has kept up with the information age and the use of new media. Making effort to address addiction is how the CAMH app, Saying When, has helped end the stigma around mental illness.

Links:

App Website: http://www.camheducation.ca/new-media/apps/saying-when/

App Video:  http://vimeo.com/105675631

CAMH Education

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s leading addiction and mental health hospital. They have earned this reputation through there new and innovative research methods regarding treatments. But what I believe is also noteworthy is their ability to reach their clients through the use of new technology and media.

Their purpose is to educate beyond healthcare professionals to clients, families, the healthcare system as a whole and the general public. The way in which they do this is by creating a blog with many different categories. Each category has its own purpose whether it is for educating a certain type of person, or relaying new information on mental illnesses. Their blog features posts for students, patients and family, teaching and learning and new media. It also features a library and events calendar. But the categories that made the CAMH blog a major discussion point in this blog is their efforts to end the stigma of mental illness. They do this in three subcategories in their blog; social change, public policy and community.

The social change category is meant for getting the word out about mental illness. The way this is done is by reporting on strives in society in favour of mental illness awareness and treatment. For example, mental health advocates recently worked with the Toronto Maple Leafs and their TML Talks campaign, to speak about mental health, stigma, stress, and awareness. The public policy section of the blog discusses ways that the provincial or federal legislation helps or hinders the situations of those with mental illnesses. For example, there is one particular post that talks about the Mental Health and Addiction Strategy that has been put forth by the Ontario government, which is an investment into mental health treatment. Whether or not their investment is enough is up for debate, but the CAMH still put forth a link to their policy option: the CAMH Strategic Direction six. http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/about_camh/mission_and_strategic_plan/Pages/vision2020stratplan.aspx

The community section is closely related to the social change section. The difference is that the community section serves to be more personal. For example there are posts that discuss ways to deal with violence, conflicts with mental illness in your area, and signs of mental illness. These are all things not usually known by the average person, but can be of use at a moments notice.

What the CAMH blog has done as tackled the stigma around mental illness at a societal, governmental, and personal level. They have introduced new ways of looking, coping, and treating mental illness that would not have been known otherwise. It is essential for the CAMH blog to be discussed as a way in which new media and technology has furthered the possibility of ending the stigma around mental illness.

CAMH Blog: http://camhblog.com/

Bell Let’s Talk

Perhaps the most notable campaign to end the stigma of mental illness is the ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ campaign. This initiative sponsored by the Canadian carrier service took their goal of ending the stigma of mental illness to social media, and became a huge trend in Canada and around the world.

On January 28th, 2014, every tweet that used the hashtag, #BellLetsTalk, Bell donated 5 cents to mental health initiatives. Also, for every share on Facebook of the Bell Let’s Talk picture, Bell also donated 5 cents to their initiatives.  In addition to this social media take over, 5 cents was also donated for every text message and long distance call made by Bell customers. At the end of the day there were over 100 million tweets, calls, texts and shares, thus making the total donation to mental health initiatives an amazing $5,472,585.90.

While these contributions are incredible and so valuable to mental health treatments, I believe that the larger contribution was that the Bell Let’s Talk campaign did get people talking about mental health issues. This was in part because advertising for Bell Lets Talk day was not done just over social media, Bell ran many powerful and thought provoking commercials about ending the stigma on mental health. Since Bell Communications owns many different television channels, there were constant spokespeople on much watched programs such as CTV news, Sports Center, and Much Music. These channels appeal to such a wide range of people in all age groups, someone would be hard pressed to not hear about the Bell initiatives.

The reason why this campaigning is important is because the stigma around mental illness cannot be defeated if it is not talked about amongst all levels of society. Meaning, if this initiative was only done through twitter and Facebook, then the audience reached would be much smaller and much younger. Therefore campaigning on television and in the print media expanded the amount of people reached by the movement, and created a larger community of people all engaged to end the stigma of mental illness.

The only criticism I have heard regarding Bell Lets Talk is that it only takes place one day a year. This is a fact, but with how this initiative is structured by Bell and accepted by society, this event only needs one day a year.  The purpose is to get people talking about mental health. So one day (plus the multiple weeks of advertising prior to the day) dedicated to talking about mental health and the stigma is enough. This is a fact because it sheds light on an issue that is constantly swept under the rug and opens the door for people who feel closed off from society. Furthermore, Bell communications has not stopped talking about mental health. There are still many ways in which people can donate to mental health initiatives, or even find help for themselves.

This is a tremendous initiative by Bell Communications. It gives a voice to those who feel without one, and changes the way in which people think about mental illness. This is a very important first step in ending the stigma around mental illness.

Below are two links. The first link discussing Bell Let’s Talk day and its impact. The second is a link to the Bell website where people can donate, learn more, or get help.

1) http://healthymindscanada.ca/bell-lets-talk-day/

2) http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/