“Everyone in the family is entitled to medicines, clean teeth and new glasses every two years . Everyone except Maite , because, as so aptly stated the lady on the phone : ” We can’t really insure her because, you know , she could … Well, you know what. ‘”
This was the quote from an article published a couple of weeks ago that LaPresse chose to share on Facebook with the article. As you will most likely agree, it is an eye-catcher. So, I clicked on it. (The article is only available in French. All quotes have been translated to English to facilitate comprehension.)
In short, this family applied for insurance. Everyone got accepted except their daughter because she had attempted suicide the year before. The father chose to turn to social media to share their story on this outrageous treatment. It didn’t take long for the insurance company to call them back and assure them their daughter was also getting insured. They justified it as an administrative error.
You believe in the administrative error?
“Honestly, no,” replied Mr. Gaudreault.
Honestly, me neither. If not for the message posted on Facebook and its negative impact on the image of the company, I doubt that the Desjardins Group would have relented so quickly.All it proves is the incredible power of social networks, which are changing the rules of corporate stake.
I was very sad to hear about the prejudice towards their daughter, but I was very grateful for the online support the family found when the father shared their story online. Mental health is still something that many people don’t understand and have trouble dealing with.
This reminded me of when I struggled with depression and I found a beautiful TED Talk from this man who shared his experience with depression. Andrew Solomon is a great author and an inspiring speaker. He writes and talks about mental health and the hardships of minorities. He, like many others, was able to share his very personal struggle through social media. Listening to him talk about his struggle, listening to how human and real he was, helped me connect and keep working on getting better. He chose one of the many ways to get an important message out to the population and it worked.
This reminded me of Leelah Alcorn, who is a transgender girl who committed suicide because of having no support or understanding from her family. She attracted international attention by publishing her suicide note online, concluding it with:
“The only way I will rest in peace,” Leelah continues, “is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please.”
When small voices, the voices of minorities or the voices of people suffering from mental illness, want to be heard, it’s not always easy. When it comes to talking to figures of authority, it can be even harder, because of not fitting in the “norm”. What social media does is it allows individuals to be heard by everyone and holding big businesses accountable for not listening to the small voices as equally as everyone else.
Social media also helps spread awareness on subjects that aren’t always easy to talk about. Mental illness is one of them. Sexual orientation and gender are two others. Being able to go online and read, talk, connect with people who are also dealing with similar things can be very helpful, especially when one is limited by money and resources.
Have you ever turned to social media to get the support and help you needed? Why choose online instead of in person or other resources?