British Columbia government communications officials were forced to admit they “lost the mark” on Friday on a social media post urging people to play “self-care bingo”.
The BC News Government Twitter account posted the idea on Friday afternoon with the caption, “Taking care of yourself can help manage stress and anxiety over time #CovidBC. Identify how you have taken care of yourself so far this week with the goal of completing a row, column, or diagonal. ”
Attached was a bingo card with ideas such as “meditate”, “drink tea” and “build a blanket fortress”.
The reaction on social media was quick, with many calling the idea tone-dull.
“People are dying! At the top of the pandemic we have a mental health and opioid crisis in our province. I can not believe that this has been approved for publication. “A dull and patronizing tone”, reads a response.
“The narrator: That day Nero recommended that measures be taken to reduce stress while Rome was burning,” said another.
Simon Fraser University professor of health sciences Scott Lear said that for people struggling with serious mental health crises, the suggestions on the bingo card can be seen as offensive.
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“For many of us we have passed that point where reading a book or building a blanket fortress will help us,” he said.
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“Some people have suffered tremendously in financial terms, perhaps their health, their lost loved ones, and this has brought great harm to stress, depression, anxiety and mental well-being.”
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The post may come suggesting that simple actions like reading a book should be able to help people battling the pandemic, he said, which obviously is not the case.
Many people in front-line positions also do not have access to paid sick days or mental health benefits, he said. Resources that are free, accessible, or government-subsidized are scarce and limited, he added.
Restraining the province from sharing COVID-19 data and uncertainty about when restrictions could end – factors that are in the hands of the government – are currently increasing people’s stress, he said.
“It just seemed kind of offensive to everyone,” Downtown Eastside Drugntown adviser and community lawyer Karen Ward said of the bingo card.
“Take care of yourself while everything is collapsing around you, and I’m sorry about that, but make a blanket fortress. “And of course the first thing that came to my mind was that there are several hundred people living in tents there.”
Ward had one of the most creative responses to the province’s messages: her bingo card.
Instead of self-care suggestions, the Ward card consists of policy ideas that it argues would do more to help alleviate the pandemic – and to help people mental and physical health.
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“I thought the health authorities would get better at this,” she said.
“It feels like people have just been told to take care of themselves, which is the opposite of public health. So I made my card for them with things they could actually do that would save lives and actually limit the spread of the virus. “
On Friday night, the province responded to outrage by writing that the post was intended to “give people ideas on how they can take care of themselves and their neighbors and direct them to free and low-cost support.” of mental health “.
He said he knew the real mental, emotional and financial stress people were facing and that the Bingo card “lost its mark”.
“We know there is a lot more work to be done to get this committed to doing the job.”
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