Author: Karen Copeland
January 28, 2015 was #BellLetsTalk day.
This means Bell will donate over six million dollars to initiatives supporting mental health across our country.
I set aside a large chunk of my day to send out tweets in support of this initiative. I wrote a blog post that lists most of the tweets I sent out and asked my twitter friends to copy, paste and share freely. I have to say, most of the tweets were super well received, with many favorites and retweets (for those who are unfamiliar with twitter, this simply means another user re-posted the tweet to their followers).
The irony of my participation in this day is that because I choose to operate as the sole proprietor of Champions for Community Mental Wellness, I am not eligible to apply for any grants or funding from Bell. Recipients of dollars from the #BellLetsTalk initiative must be registered charities or non-profit organizations. So why did I still support this initiative?
The answer is pretty simple. For me, it’s not about money…although I will be honest, it would be nice considering I am just starting out on this business journey. No, it’s not about money. It is about lending my voice to a conversation and movement for change when it comes to how we think about mental health, particularly as it relates to children, youth and families. My tweets for the day focused specifically on this – and I did my best to highlight the challenges that families face as they try to access fragmented and sometimes judgmental systems for help. I presented data that illustrated what types of supports families told me they need (see this post) and noted that the majority of them are only available to families via private pay.
While families are definitely appreciative of access to any kind of help we can get, sometimes we need more than counselling for children/youth and parenting classes. Wouldn’t it be nice, if when we first get introduced to a service we were asked “what do you need?” instead of being told “here’s what we offer.”?
Interestingly enough, parents who have children with developmental disabilities or autism are asked the “what do you need?” question, which I think really speaks to the advocacy efforts parents have put forward on behalf of their children. I know and continue to believe that a movement of change will happen within the mental health community and advocacy efforts will ramp up to illustrate why children (and their families) who have mental health challenges are also deserving of supports that work for them not for the system. And you can bet I will be adding my voice to these efforts. Loudly. I hope you will join me!
Am I happy I invested the time in #BellLetsTalk day? Absolutely. I engaged in an incredible amount of positive dialogue throughout the day, and read many inspirational stories.
Now one wish:
That the people who decide which organizations will receive funding from this campaign will take the time to read the tweets, to consider what supports families truly need and to fund projects that provide those supports. Because if we are ever going to make a difference for our children, youth and families, we need to start ASKING them what they need instead of telling them what we can offer.
So Bell, I talked. I hope you listened.
On Facebook: Champions for Community Mental Wellness
On Twitter: @KarenCopeland3