So, there’s this funky little cafe local to me that’s in the middle of a major shitstorm at the moment. They’ve had a great social media presence lately, because they fought Newcastle Council about outdoor seating (the cafe wanted to keep it because it assisted their less mobile patrons, the Council said no, the cafe won). But eventually all social media winds turn sour, and sometimes the very thing that pollutes their Twitter stream is the wording they use in a status update.
Here it is:
Here’s the thing: since posting this very poorly worded status, the cafe managers have endured bullying, slander, threats and slurs. They’ve had their mental health questioned, with some “fans” suggesting a narcissistic personality disorder while others offer definitions of bullying.
By saying ‘conditions’ and ‘feeling depressed’, Vincents suddenly sounds like they don’t believe in the validity of mental illness, or at the very least, underplay the horrific impact it can have in someone’s life. With this wording, Vincents is minimising and disrespecting people with depression. Which is really fucked up.
I actually think the owner has a point. Shock horror, I know.
I know that when my depression is in full swing, the last thing I can do and want to do is front up to a busy and noisy environment, full of people expecting me to be 100% on my game. This is why I stopped teaching, and pursued other avenues of employment. And I absolutely, would call in sick, or just not turn up. I used to leave home well before the early morning casual teaching phone calls started, just to make sure that no school could get hold of me.
It wasn’t until I raked together a support network, which included a psychologist, a decent GP and medication, that I was able to realistically assess what employment opportunities would be better for me. With decent support and education, I was able to start making wiser career choices. Choices that supported ongoing wellness.
And just like that, the issue stops being a poorly worded employment advertisement and becomes a statement about the shortfall in decent support for people with mental health conditions.
Our mental health system is more of a mental maintenance system. Anything beyond that comes down to the consumer making choices and pursuing options to gain and remain well. And you know, this is actually possible. When you’ve done that groundwork to ensure maintenance. Mental health has once again become something to be shamed, laughed at, and totally unemployable.
So it really is a pretty major problem when the current prime minister decides that the role of Minister for Mental Health can be ditched. He’s got a Minister for Sport and a Minister for Border Protection… but there’s a pretty gaping hole when it comes to actually giving a damn about other people.
This doesn’t actually let Vincent’s off the hook, though. They messed up, significantly. What’s awesome is that many, many people know it.
Not because it gives Vincent’s bad name. Not at all.
But because it shows just how far attitudes towards mental health have improved.