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Opinion: Campaigns like Bell Let's Talk make for suspiciously great PR, don't they.

It is a very cathartic feeling to connect through one’s experiences, good and bad. Social media is a fantastic platform for that type of connection, however; are these organic relationships being exploited? With the annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign wrapping up earlier this week, it raises the question; are campaigns like this effective or just good PR?

Starting in 2010, the campaign seemed like one of a kind. Social media was slowing morphing into what we know it as today and people took notice. Conversations about mental health and is every day effects were uniting users everywhere. What seemed like an opportunity to engage in moving discussion turned into a hashtag; surprisingly, not the worst thing in the world.

Hashtags are a simple method to search out thoughts on a specific topic but are they a good marker of impact?

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Some could argue the more people discussing a subject online means more information shared. I believe in quality over quantity; the substance of the conversation outweighs the number of participants. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of opinions, perspectives and viewpoints. So again, I ask, how effective are these online campaigns?

The answer; I don’t know.

The effectiveness is difficult to gauge. Money is raised for different initiatives, experiences are shared, and some people feel heard; but, for only one day. The allure of the one-day campaign was compelling in 2010 but not so much on today’s internet.

The gimmick behind spearheading a day to discuss a specific subject online seems counterintuitive. Everything is too fastpaced to keep one’s attention on a singular subject for the entire day. Instead, these one-day campaigns symbolize how corporations are trying to stay relevant and trendy. Aside from the dated concept, the skepticism I have surrounding these types of initiatives will always be rooting in one question; do you practice what you preach?

Large corporations, especially when discussing mental health, are never the first in line to highlight the discrepancies in their own policies. By reputation, large corporations are breading grounds for toxic work cultures adversely effecting one’s mental health. We hear the conversations about shortening work weeks to alleviate the stress works bears on our mental well-being. We hear about the lack of mental health related benefits in insurance plans. We hear about the physical effects of poor mental health. What we don’t hear about are how corporations are attempting to fix this for their employees.

Internet campaigns initiated by large corporations will always be good PR for the company. But, they can also illicit change when used correctly. So Bell, let’s talk.

It’s time to take it to the next level and actualize change throughout the year. Let’s see impact of the money raised at the local level. Let’s have discussions surrounding destigmatizing mental illness with different cultural lenses. Let’s see a change in work culture.

Let’s take the conversation off the internet and into real life. Let’s see you be the change you want to see.

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.