Opinion Stigma Reduction Technology — 10 October 2015

Today we are all here to acknowledge World Mental Health Awareness Week.

Around the world today, social media will be buzzing with education, awareness and advocacy for mental health and the possibility of positive outcomes. Cyber space will be buzzing with mantras for improving global mental health.

One of the key vehicles through which these messages will be transported will be social media.

Social Media is Powerful, and like anything powerful we have to harness it and be respectful.

We all know about social media for bad:

  • Cyber bullying
  • Facebook parties
  • An un-necessary distraction for kids doing their homework
  • Killing the art of communication

But like it or not our digital world is here to stay. And it’s not just social media that is a culprit – it is the internet, Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft and any other company that has used technology to save time.

Social Media is the Conversation Currency of today –

  • There are 2.1 Billion people on social media.
  • There are 4.5 Billion Likes a Day
  • 500 Million Tweets a day

So this social conversation can be used for good – we can use it for:

  • Communication
  • Education
  • Inspiration
  • Sharing

Positive Experiences and language is already being used to influence positive change via the world mental health month website – www.1010.org.au.

Today, you can go and make a personal mental health promise and share it with the world via social media.

Helping the world speak freely about mental health as an issue, and the conversations generated enable people suffering from mental illnesses to normalise them, to accept that they need help and where to find it.

The conversations generated always uncover people you would never expect sharing experiences about recovery and opportunity.

Yes, there will always be negativity – and everyone in this room is likely to have a story about social media for bad relating to someone they know, or even themselves. But that is not what today is about.

So how can we leverage the power of positivity in social media when it comes to mental illness? Here are my Top 6 Tips:

Create content for what your desired audience wants – not what you want to tell them.

  1. PROMOTE THE OUTCOME not the PAIN in your messaging
  2. DON’T SCARE THEM – they are already scared
  3. BE POSITIVE DON’T PREACH – The Black Dog Institute is already working with the CSIRO to develop a tool that can isolate tweets that are suggestive of suicidal behaviour  so that they can intervene
  4. PROMOTE CONTINUOUS OPPORTUNITIES FOR HELP – be always there to be there at the right time
  5. ATTRACT THE FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES of people suffering
  6. USE HASHTAGs – very useful tools for collating information into categories where they can start conversations and be found easily #bipolar #addiction #hugsnotdrugs

Days like today are one really important step in bringing valuable awareness to the forefront about the realities about, the prevalence of and the treatments available for mental health in Australia and around the world.

My father suffered from an often debilitating anxiety throughout his entire adult life that often had to be treated with medication – that he always hated taking. In his generation mental illness was simply never spoken of and he and many others had to suffer in silence – missing days of work and experiencing periods of social isolation while they managed their condition. My teenage daughter has diagnosed anxiety. My brother in law suffers from bi-polar.

Mental illness is all around us. And I have seen first hand the wonderful treatments and resources available to anyone in this country, no matter of their social or economic status. Initiatives like DRUG ARM who we are supporting today is just one example.

Mental illness is no longer a sentence of isolation, and in fact it can often go hand in hand with brilliance and creativity.

Social Media is a powerful tool, that provides us all with an opportunity to channel positivity for awareness and education. I encourage you all to embrace it, channel it and explore it as a tool for change – not without caution, but with clarity and purpose.

This speech was presented during Mental Health Week 2015 by Philippa Spork, award winning author of Rules of Social Engagement, a business mentor and speaker specialising in social content marketing. Philippa was voted the People’s Choice award winner and a National Digital Finalist in the 2015 B&T Women in Media Awards.

Follow Phillipa Spork on Facebook, Twitter  or visit her website.


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MHAA Staff

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