The call went out last week to put on purple to remember the tragic suicide of Ottawa Senators assistant coach Luke Richardson’s 14-year-daughter, Daron, as well as all other victims of mental illness.
Another day, another colour, another way to feel good about yourself for doing next to nothing, right?
While slacktivism is often criticized as ineffective in creating meaningful change, awareness can make a difference. Mashable has a great article about why the term itself is the worst thing about these micro-movements:
“It irritates me that we have invented this term as a pejorative way to describe what should be viewed as the first steps to being involved in a cause in 2010,” said Katya Andresen, Chief Operating Officer of Network for Good. “Let’s not whine that people want to do easy things that make them feel they’ve somehow made a difference. It’s okay if someone’s initial commitment is modest -– and it’s truly an opportunity that it’s easier than ever to spread information, create new initiatives for social good, and take action.”We are overwhelmed with things to think and care about these days. Giving important social issues their own day, with a simple action that jogs the memory and incites conversation, is actually quite useful.
“What the world needs now is far more engagement by individual citizens, not less, and simple steps such as signing petitions or even sharing opinions/tweeting are steps in the right direction,” said Randy Paynter, CEO and Founder of Care2. “As Edmund Burke once said, ‘Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.’ Because small steps can lead to bigger steps, being critical of small steps serves no good. It simply disenfranchises folks.”
This is especially important for the issue of mental illness, because there is still so much stigma attached to physical diseases and conditions that express themselves through changes to mood and personality. The mental world is very much an undiscovered country for all but a few researchers, and things that happen in our heads carry the mythological fear of the unknown.
However, it not an issue that anyone can ignore. One source estimates that one in five people in Ontario will experience a mental illness at some point in his or her lifetime. (Having worked in advertising for 20 years, I am not joking when I say that I am convinced that way more than 20% of us are mentally ill — whether diagnosed or not!)
So it matters that we're talking a little more about mental illness today, and that we were able to take some small action to feel a tiny bit more personal involvement in, and control over, a seemingly overwhelming issue.
If you'd like to do even more, you can donate to the Daron Richardson Fund through the Sens Foundation or the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health