For those that live with an illness, disability or life limiting condition, the world can sometimes be a place of misunderstanding. People don’t know what you’re going through, and so they might not accommodate your needs as you’d like them to. People might say the wrong thing accidentally, or might even stare when you’re using a wheelchair or taking your medication.

social media

For some, there is a sense of embarrassment pulling a needle from a bag at the airport, whilst explaining that it’s for injecting insulin. For others, the issue might be the need for adaptations at work – even having a ‘special’ chair might earn unwanted attention.

So, for many people, the key is to raise awareness. The more people understand a condition, the more they know how to respond to it.

Are social media campaigns the answer?

We’ve all seen social media awareness campaigns that spread internationally – the Ice Bucket Challenge was a big one, and people are always posting nonsensical Facebook statuses or one word updates that simply state a colour or a number. The latest campaign invites women (and men) to hold a drink can between their breasts in order to raise awareness of breast cancer.

The Pros

Social media campaigns can raise awareness. Some people that haven’t heard of a condition will look it up to acquire information. Some people do donate money in lieu of participation, and often as well as participating in a challenge. The Ice Bucket Challenge, for example, raised hundreds of millions of pounds.

The Cons

Social media campaigns can make a joke of serious conditions. Some breast cancer survivors, and those currently with the condition, have hit out at people putting cans between their breasts to raise awareness of breast cancer. Many of these people have had their breasts removed to fight cancer, which can make the challenge seem like a mockery.

These campaigns are also now almost constant – one follows straight on from another – and important messages can easily be lost or ignored. When we get a lot of leaflets through out front doors, we tend to stop paying attention to them. Arguably, a constant stream of Facebook charity campaigns will lead to anger and frustration, and might actually put people off charities, causes and donations.

What Can Be Done Instead?

Rather than participating in a certain challenge, individuals that want to raise awareness can post important information. They can write open letters, share images and post statuses that mention the signs and symptoms to look out for. Those with health conditions can use Facebook as a platform for describing what they go through to friends and family members, and can also use Facebook groups as a way to communicate with others that are going through similar.

Meanwhile, people that don’t have a certain health condition but would like to raise awareness can use Facebook to share those messages straight from reputable sources and from individuals that have experience. The more people understand what signs to look out for, what specialist equipment might help someone with a certain condition and what adaptations might need to be made, the more significant the impact of social media awareness campaigns will actually be.

Ecuva is a health, fitness and wellbeing store selling products that include daily living aids, sport and fitness equipment and specialist medical products.

 

 

About The Author

Editor
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I've worked as an Occupational Therapist for many years dealing with physical and mental health patients, both in hospitals and the community. Living a healthy, well balanced life with a good diet, regular exercise and a taking a positive outlook are crucial to becoming a very well being indeed - sometimes easier said than done!

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