“Let’s Talk” About Self-Care Privilege

Don’t expect Bell to check in on your darkest days

Megan Orr, Opinions Editor

A friend of a friend posted on social media a few weeks ago in honour of the Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign that runs through January. She said something to the effect of, “I struggle with depression and anxiety and took the day off today for self-care (spa day, how lucky am I?!)” The post went on for a while talking about how important it is to make time for ourselves and check in with how we’re feeling – sound familiar?

The reality is, self-care isn’t the answer to most people’s problems because it is a privilege that many people can’t afford. It’s become commercialized. From bath bombs to sparkling wines, brands with trend-savvy marketing people are jumping on board the self-care train. Of course, this isn’t the true meaning of self-care, at all, but more like the Instagrammable version that’s worthy of sharing with people, and frankly, it’s bullshit.

Sure, pampering yourself is nice and perhaps an aspect of self-care, but it’s more than a one-off trip to the spa. It can be a lot more complicated than just treating yourself to something special. The discourse surrounding Let’s Talk, while important, doesn’t really do much to serve the people who really do need a lesson in self-care.

The innate flaw with these sorts of campaigns is that they happen once a year. Money is raised, people proclaim their support for the cause and profess their inner struggles… but then the rest of the year? Individuals continue to be silent and struggle alone.

Real self-care is about setting up boundaries and monitoring problematic behaviours. Yes, bath bombs, wine and even social media confessions about our struggles can temporarily make us feel good, but they don’t do the real work that people should be doing for their own and others’ well-being. At the end of the day, it’s a marketing campaign. While that doesn’t mean that the stories that come from it are any less worthy of attention, but it does mean that Bell isn’t going to follow up with you about what you’re going through. The work that they are doing at Bell is good and important, but it isn’t actually a part of their job to check in on your mental health.

You know whose job it is? Yours, your friends and family, and trained professionals. The lady at the Lush counter or BCL doesn’t want to hear about how you’ve ‘just been having a tough time lately’. Talk to the people in your life who are actually there to listen to you and be there for the people who need someone to talk to. Also, stop using social media as your sounding board for issues like this. So-and-so isn’t actually handling their mental illness better than you are just because they were able to post a #inspo picture about their spa trip – they are just better at pretending. Know the difference.

1 Comment
  1. First of all let’s clear up some misconceptions, self-care doesn’t refer to spa days and wine and all those wonderful things that you can do to yourself to make yourself feel better. Self-care is taking care of yourself. It’s about making sure that you get up in the morning that you brush your teeth and shower. it’s about making sure that your self-talk is gentle and not harsh, like that you’re not calling yourself an idiot for failing and that you’re not calling yourself out on things that aren’t your fault. Secondly I applaud bells let’s talk campaign because it starts the conversation it de-stigmatizes the fact that mental illness exists and although it only happens once a year is a conversation that needs to be continued for the entire year. As a counselor for works with people who are scared to come in for therapy I applaud the work that Bell is doing because of even one person reaches out and connects with me to get the help they need then that’s one person more than there was yesterday.

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