Opinion: BC government rightly roasted over dumb ‘self-care bingo’

The B.C. government Twitter account got dragged hard on Friday and it’s all their own fault.

The account posted a “self-care bingo” card so people could “identify how you’ve taken care of yourself so far this week” in regards to their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the spaces (shown above) were such actions as meditation, going for a walk, taking a nap and reading a book.

It also included the centre square filled with “Cried. Let it out.”

The response to it was immediate, with a long list of responses telling the government it had wildly misjudged its audience for this. Many people were downright furious. A main message in response was that B.C. has done a terrible job of funding mental health programs and was now putting the focus on people doing the work for them.

People also responded that one big reason why people are under such stress is that the province has done a bad job managing the pandemic and not instituted enough measures to protect people from its financial side effects.

I was particularly irked by one square that mentioned people making a “blanket fort” to deal with their stress. That was an asinine decision to include that because it crossed a line into making a joke.

I was OK with the centre square about crying. I think we need to normalize the act of crying, especially for men. Sometimes it’s good to cry, but we constantly are fed the message that we need to “man up.” But the overall exercise was a staggering mistake and an example of how too much money is spent on government communications staff instead of programs to help people.

Some people redesigned the bingo card to highlight the kind of mental health programs that aren’t properly funded by the government. (See second image above.)

Simon Matijesevic tweeted that the onus of mental health shouldn’t be on citizens in the form of self-care actions.

“This is offensive. Insulting and offensive. It demonstrates how utterly ignorant the gov is to the reality citizens lives,” Matijesevic wrote. “Do your job, don’t ask the citizens to do it for you. People are dying, losing their financial security, their futures, and so . . . here’s a bit of bingo.”

Here is a sample of other responses.

Randy Ferbster: “Our tax dollars hard at work. Someone got paid for this ridiculous idea and someone else got paid to design it.”

Free and low cost options? It’s taken literally half of my life of begging to see a psychiatrist and thousands and thousands of dollars in therapy and meditation to keep me alive. But yeah, I’ll meditate instead,” wrote Raven Loucks.

“Thank you government for giving us ‘crying it out’ as a free space as if it’s just acceptable for our mental health to be kicked to the curb and stomped on like it doesn’t matter,” wrote Mackenzie Keast.

Some people were OK with the government’s post.

“I sincerely don’t get why people are so offended by this. There is no evidence that making yourself extra-miserable reduces transmission rates. Mental health helps,” tweeted Carmen Mills.

Following the backlash, the B.C. government Twitter account offered this response, which is definitely not an apology, nor much of a mea culpa: “COVID-19 has caused mental, emotional and financial stress. Our post was meant to give people ideas of how they can take care of themselves and their neighbours and point them to free and low-cost mental health supports. We’ve seen positive feedback, but also heard we missed the mark. We know there’s a lot more work to do to get through this — we’re committed to doing the work.”

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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