It’s not quite a week since I attended Vancouver’s (and probably the world’s) first-ever MentalHealthCamp. It was a breakthrough event, for so many reasons.
First, it’s paved the way for other cities around the world to gather together and examine, openly and frankly, how social media can help strip away the stigma that surrounds mental health issues. Already, communities from Dallas to Ottawa, from San Francisco to Sydney, are looking to organize similar unconferences using Vancouver as the model.
But it was also a breakthrough for me as well. I was there as a volunteer, the “media concierge’, as Raul kindly put it. I could have spent the entire day merely observing.
But I didn’t.
I found myself deeply immersed in everyone’s stories – of alienation, of pain, of sadness – and of survival and fighting back for respect and dignity. I found myself almost crying one minute, and laughing and cheering accomplishments the next. I became part of that wonderful community of people, and am so happy I went.
Like most of us, I’ve had some dark days in my life – perhaps not as profound as some – but they’ve happened and they could happen again. I also have dear friends and family members who sometimes struggle. But I feel stronger, better and happier for the fact that there is no shame in telling people how you feel, and looking to others for help and support.
And blogging about it:-)
If there is one thing I learned at MentalHealthCamp, it’s that this thing we call social media can be a powerful tool when thoughtfully used to teach, to help, and to heal. I’m ready to help whenever I can to spread the word.
To all of those who raised their voices, especially those who may have done so for the first time – thank you all. You rock!