Corporations and Mental Health: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
I thought twice about sharing the news about the academic scholarship from Shire (see Scholarship for ADHD Students). I’m well aware of the large faction who generally vilify pharmaceutical companies and specifically skewer those of us who are open about including ADHD medication as part of our treatment regime.
The week before, I was invited to participate in Bell Canada’s “Let’s Talk” campaign to raise awareness and remove stigma from mental health. Bell is one of Canada’s largest corporations, and again, there was a churning in the pit of my stomach. But why?
What is it with huge, powerful, profit-making corporations and mental health?
Why on earth would Bell Canada, a telecommunications company, ever want to be involved in mental health? What do they know about it? Is it just a slick PR exercise?
I feel neither sophisticated enough nor informed enough to even pretend to understand the inner workings of the Bell publicity and marketing machine. What I do know is that there are precious few resources for adults with ADHD, or for anyone with a mental health challenge.
I decided to participate in Bell’s annual national awareness campaign, Bell Let’s Talk. I tweeted about mental health issues for the larger part of the day, and for every Tweet, five cents was donated to the cause.
I recognized many of the other online participants, who seemed to be divided into either individuals who had personally suffered from a mental illness, or celebrities, professionals and organizations – including many familiar bloggers, authors, and health care professionals – who are involved in raising awareness not just one day of the year but for 365 days of the year and then some.
Together, we raised $5,472,585. In one day. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
Again, as I did with the Shire scholarship fund, I combed over the Bell Let’s Talk website trying to answer the many questions I had. Where was this money going? Was it really going to help anyone?
What I learned made me feel that yes, some good would actually come of this campaign. Since the program started in 2010, $62.5 million in grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 has been donated to organizations, hospitals and agencies in Canada, many of whom I recognized, who are pursuing a number of initiatives in the mental health field.
Telepsychiatry is being expanded so that people living in rural areas have access to mental health professionals; homeless individuals, addicts, and at-risk youth are being provided with services; stigma is being attacked directly and boldly through the campaign’s spokesperson, Canadian Clara Hughes. Hughes is a six-time Olympic medalist who’s won in cycling and speed skating in both the summer and winter Olympics. Clara has shared her own struggle with depression publicly and is helping to put a face on the challenges of mental health.
How can I not step up to the plate and support this initiative?
Addressing stigma towards those of us with mental health issues and different brains (which is how I think of ADHD) is a complex topic. As someone who is prone to black-and-white thinking, I’m seeing gray areas when it comes to corporations and mental health.
Is there another way we can raise this much money for the cause? Is there a compelling reason that overrides any good that is achieved?
How do you feel about corporations, even pharmaceutical companies, becoming involved in mental health care initiatives?
Kessler, Z. (2014). Corporations and Mental Health: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2014/02/corporations-and-mental-health-a-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing/