New blog – Today I thought I’d write about mental health awareness week and more specifically why I think it creates, not solves, problems for charities and mental health awareness. It’s quite topical as here in the UK we’re currently underway with mental health awareness week!
As usual whenever there’s a charity awareness event taking place people in work are busy organising bake sales and various other good deeds to organise money for a mental health charity. Which is really admirable but I see so many now (and spend soooo much on cakes!) that I begin to wonder whether these events start to lose their focus. I’ve been to 4 or 5 bake sales this year and in truth, I couldn’t tell you what charity any of them are for. I’ve got one this week which I know is connected to mental health awareness week but I can’t for the life of me remember what particular charity it’s for or what the values of that charity actually are! AndI’m pretty certain that most of the other attendees can’t either. That means that in truth if we’re honest with ourselves the real reason we’re attending is not that we’re particularly dedicated to that charity or cause but rather because we want some cake and we can do a good deed while eating it!
This to me is a real problem for the charities and sort of shows (at least to me) why raising awareness is actually failing. If we’re focussed on the act of supporting charity in general and not really thinking about the cause itself then what exactly are we raising awareness of? Yes, we might be raising awareness of the fact that this week is focussed on mental health. But after this week does this mean that people will carry on contributing to mental health charities? Or instead, will they be focussed on the next charity that has some kind of event coming up?
Don’t get me wrong – giving money to charities is great and they absolutely need this money to survive. The problem for me is that what’s happening is that for a week we are creating a potentially massive influx of cash to a group of mental health charities. But we’re not doing is giving them a sustainable and consistent source of income throughout the year. This means that after mental health awareness week is over some of the money raised has to be put aside by the charities to support them with their running costs to keep them going through some of the more leaner months. Another portion has to be set aside for future fundraising and to raise awareness of those charities outside of mental health awareness week. The end result of all this is that of the money you contributed this week only a fraction (I won’t say what fraction because it varies by charity) of the is actually reaching the people who need it, i.e. the people the charity supports. So is awareness of the charities and the work they do actually being raised? Or have what we have done instead is to end up creating a seasonal source of income for mental health charities which leads them to become utterly dependent on these peaks of income? Anyone who lives in a seaside town or a tourist area will tell you how decimated and desolate some of these places can become during out of season periods. Trust me, when I lived in Blackpool it was like a ghost town in the offseason! My hope is that we won’t be doing the same to some of the mental health charities.
The good news though is that we CAN change this! So my plea to you all as readers of money mental is for you to raise your own awareness of the charities that you’re supporting this mental health awareness week. Visit their websites and read the information they provide. If you like what they have to say then why not sign up to become a regular donor and help them build a sustainable source of income throughout the year? Even if it’s only a couple of pounds a month you could just be saving someone’s life with that! And please, please encourage your friends and family to do the same as well. Share this blog if you think it will help. But whatever you do please don’t let mental health awareness be about just one week a year because that just won’t work!
If you’re not sure where to look for information then I’ve linked below to some of the bigger mental health charities. But don’t forget to have a look to see if there are any mental health charities in your local area that you can support as well. Often they’re the ones that need it most and that are so relied upon by the NHS to help people in your local community who have mental health issues.
Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/
Rethink Mental Illness – https://www.rethink.org/
Time to change – https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/
If you’re looking to improve your own mental wellbeing then don’t forget my top tips to do can be found by clicking here.
Thanks for reading and if you’ve got any thoughts or comments on the above then please do comment below. Also feel free to follow @moneymentaluk on twitter, youtube, and Instagram for more thoughts.
All the best.