Glancing through Twitter the last couple of weeks, a little icon with ‘Zip It – donate your voice‘ written on it caught my eye. Spending my days as a fundraiser for World Vision, I’m always keen to check out what others are doing in the ever challenging quest to raise funds for charities.
Given the title, it shouldn’t have surprised me that a campaign challenging Australians to stay silent for 24 hours – was raising money for mental health charities.
So often people with a mental illness feel like we have to stay silent about what we are feeling. Fearful of the reaction of others, we force ourselves to “zip it”.
When workplace chatter turns to mental illness, we “zip it” – not wanting to open up about our condition lest people start to treat us differently.
When we’re feeling stressed, or anxious or like depression is starting to close in on us, we “zip it” – preferring to suffer in silence than to admit that we’re not coping as well as we’d like others to think we are. Sadly, keeping our lips sealed, and not talking about what is going on inside, often makes what we are experiencing ten times worse.
But we’re not the only ones who “zip it” when faced with mental illness.
When we do become unwell, our loved ones around us “zip it” – trying to cope alone rather than risk embarrassing us by letting others know of our condition. Often, their friends, colleagues or fellow church members have no idea of what they – or their acutely unwell husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother or child – is going through.
Most psychiatric hospitals are daunting places for the mentally unwell – let alone visitors. Moving from the flower and helium balloon filled maternity ward to the high dependency unit of a nearby psychiatric hospital after becoming acutely unwell following the birth of my first baby, the lack of visitors or even ‘get well’ cards surprised me.
As someone who’s been forced to “Zip It” about my own condition on many occasions, I applaud the mental health charities of Australia for this great new campaign. Last time I checked, it had raised almost $58,000 for the following charity partners:
- Suicide Prevention Australia
- Headspace – National Youth Mental Health Foundation
- Black Dog Institute (which specialises in mood disorders like Bipolar Disorder)
- Mind Australia
- COPE – Centre of Perinatal Excellence
- PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association
You can check out the campaign for yourself at http://www.zipit.org.au
Some of you might ask why are we discussing a fundraising campaign on a blog for mums with Bipolar Disorder? Well, because while I (and I’m guessing many of you) are still forced to “Zip It” – it doesn’t have to be like this in the future.
With awareness and education comes understanding. If down the track any of my three children are diagnosed with a mental illness – I’d like to hope that attitudes will have changed so much by then that they won’t think twice about discussing it with their friends or workmates. That there will be no need to “Zip It”.
If you’ve heard of any other great fundraising campaigns for mental health charities, leave a comment below – I’m sure we’d all love to hear about them!