Yesterday I fell over. Scratch that. Now I’m over 50, I think the correct term is *tilt head* ‘He’s had a fall…’
I’m lying in bed today – the first day of this new and wonderful year – with a painful, twisted ankle. I’m feeling great though, that the weird mist of dissociation – where I lose grip of what is real and what isn’t – that accompanied my tumble, has passed.
Added to that, I’ve had a thought.
Those of you who’ve been with me since the beginning will know I have a leaning towards the grandiose – some might call it blind optimism – I mean, what kind of lunatic would walk off around the edge of the U.K. with no money, expecting hospitality from the lovely folk of our fair island?
I’ve been looking at how many followers we have on Facebook (around 1500) and Twitter (about 1700) and I indulged in thinking, if that’s added together, we’ve got about…
But they might be the same people. Given the shenanegans of all things interwebby, some of these people might not even be…people…
To rub salt in my already open wound I decided to look at the followings of the rock stars of the mental health world.
Some have 10 thousand followers! Some have reached the dizzying heights of 20 odd thousand!
Mind – the folk who call themselves ‘The mental health charity’ in the UK – have nearly a quarter of a million followers on Twitter and roughly the same on Facebook.
Impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree.
But here’s the thing…
There are, in any one year, a minimum of slightly over 15 million people with mental health problems on our lovely island, if we go with the 1 in 4 figure that’s often brandished about the place.
There are over 15 million Twitter users and a massive 30 million (thereabouts) folk using Facebook in the UK.
One in 4 of those would equate to nearly 4 million and just over 7 million respectively.
That means, even the biggest hitter in our mental health world, Mind, are only reaching 6 and a quarter percent of the Twitterers and around 3 and a half percent of the Facebookers with mental health problems – their target audience – in the UK.
I imagine when those figures started coming through at Mind HQ, much in the same way that I started rejoicing our figures, they thought, ‘A quarter of a million! That’s fabulous!’
What about all the health and social care professionals? There must be nearly a bazillion of them.
Suddenly those already low figures are looking, er paltry, poultry if you’re still in the festive spirit.
So where are all these people?
I know it’s not all about the numbers, but, bear with me just a little longer…
One of the biggest problems for folk with mental health problems in the UK today is stigma – prejudicial views held by folk out of ignorance.
This stigma can manifest in discriminatory behaviours – often terribly well meaning – towards folk with a mental malady.
It can lead to people being paralysed with the fear of saying the wrong thing. They want to help – but what if they say something offensive? People end up saying nothing when almost anything would have been better.
That same fear could be what’s preventing folk from standing shoulder to shoulder, showing solidarity with these groups.
I know folk will take offence. Lordy, I’ve taken offence when I’ve read something that was written innocuously, flipping it over in my head into something mean and horrible.
I’ve learned, by walking around the edge of the U.K., relying on others for hospitality, that folk are fabulous.
People want to help, they want to get involved, they often just need permission.
So, here’s the plan.
By the end of the year, I want all things Walkamile to have AT LEAST 1 million followers.
Yes – 1 MILLION!
That’s just one in four of the one in four on Twitter and one in seven of the one in four on Facebook.
It will, obviously, mean that our individual voices will be diluted but, collectively what a voice that could be.
A voice that shouts out the principles of Walkamile – of love, consiliation, and compassion, of solidarity and of validation.
Where the assumption we make is that people are fabulous.
Where we accept that folk will make mistakes with language, occasionally with actions.
Where we accept WE will make mistakes…
And yes, with larger numbers, it could feel a bit like herding cats.
I want us to live in a country where talking about our mental health is as easy as talking about a twisted ankle.
1 million followers – just imagine…
Walk a mile