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Comfort in Silence - A Look at Advocacy & Social Media

Written by QCMHA member, Alex LeBoeuf

There’s no doubt that social media platforms have become a significant part of our lives as young adults, particularly in the virtual environment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although these platforms have positive aspects, such as fostering community and engaging with friends, these platforms can be divisive and damaging.

How does this really connect to mental health advocacy you may be wondering?

Throughout the past 6 months I’ve observed and been a part of various mental health campaigns, posts, and platforms devoted to destigmatization and sharing people’s personal stories. I think that leveraging social media for positive change and generating widespread awareness is a great tool for increasing advocacy in the community. It’s proven to be beneficial, especially for organizations and groups just starting out, short on resources, or interested in making change on a more personal level. I’ve found so many great organizations, resources, and people to look up to for advice and support through social media.

The question I want to bring up is, how can people who are yet not recovered from the illness they’re battling proactively take part in this online community? I’m not saying that someone who is dealing with mental health challenges can’t repost stories or look through resources made available. However, there is a sense of empowerment when someone is at the point of posting about their journey and how they are “on the other side” or “made it through”. There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact I champion for all the people who have been able to overcome such challenging feats. What I’m trying to bring up is, how can we empower people who are not on this metaphorical ‘other side’ of the mental health spectrum.

I’m not sure I have the answer in this post, but it was a question I hope everyone considers. I think it’s important to continuously question the practices currently in place to combat mental illness among Canadian adolescents and young adults. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently as I wonder whether what I do is enough to make actionable change. I’ve found it’s easy to get comfortable in the small things I do to support social causes. As I listened to a podcast for one of my classes titled ‘Being Radical is Reasonable’, it made me question what are the broader, systemic changes need to be done to empower the people who are struggling the most, and what radical shifts could incite these changes.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and consider the questions brought up in this post. Here is the link to the podcast I referred to:

Stay well & take care.

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