The news and social feeds have been rife with the tragic news of Caroline Flack, a beautiful and hugely talented personality who, on the face of it, seemed to have it all.
Despite the support of celebrities and healthcare professionals in raising awareness of mental health issues, there still seems to be a social acceptance of scathing comments being chalked up to teasing or a bit of banter.
I was raised with the saying “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” It wasn’t just something we said, it was something we lived by. We would never dream of shouting a string of abuse in a person’s face because we didn’t like the way they looked, but it seems that we do not place the same values when communicating via technology.
Inherently I believe that people do feel bad and regretful when they say something that then hurts another. Sadly, with the advances in technology, so many more factors make it harder to see the impact our comments have. The written word lacks emotion so there is no expression in what we mean, there is no feedback to see how our words may be hurting someone else and it is far easier for people to put on a “brave face” when they are behind a keyboard.
Recently we featured the lovely Jessica who had suffered from alopecia since childhood. Having lost her hair and coming to terms with that she was also subjected to ridicule from her peers making her feel further isolated for being different. This affected Jessica’s emotional wellbeing and caused unnecessary stress to you young girl.
Sadly this is not an isolated incident, we see children suffering from Trichotillomania (TTM), alopecia and even experiencing hair loss through cancer, who all suffer cruel bullying because they have bald areas. Again, there is almost an acceptance that “kids say what they think” or “kids can be cruel”. One young child we work with came in for some help with TTM, as part of the service we have included bi-weekly counselling sessions to offer support and encouragement and they are doing brilliantly.
But it is not just kids that can be mean, we have had clients of all ages and all walks of life that sit in the chair and breakdown in tears at comments and bullying they have experienced. As part of our service, we have access to a wonderful therapist who has helped many of our clients to build resilience and regain control.
Remember it is so easy to tear people down with a harsh comment, but think how much better this world would be if we built each other up. Kindness can be contagious, and it can all start with a simple gesture or kind word.