Last year I had a bright idea, I realised that there was a 'gap in the market' for a community on Twitter specifically aimed at Mental Health, so after some research to confirm that there wasn't one already, I created a #RoCur account.
"RoCur (Rotation Curation) = is the concept of rotating the spokesperson on a broad scoped social media account. Such a scope can be a location, a country, an organization, a group, and so on. (Source: Wikipedia)"
Mental Health Voices (@MH_Voices), was to be a sounding board for people affected by Mental Illness, the account attracted those suffering with various illness' as well as carers, and professionals. On the surface it was a success. The following grew, and each week a new person would take over the curation talking about their experiences.
Behind the scenes however, trouble boiled. I started to discover that things weren't as friendly and kind as I had hoped for. People would complain about anything and everything, and of course as the founder and administrator for the account they would come straight to me.
Running this account revealed a naïveté on my part, despite 15 years experience of marketing, the final six in digital and social media I had never encountered a community who were so quick to turn on each other like this before. I honestly hadn't anticipated the kind of complaints I would received, and how personal and cruel people would be towards me.
What running the account also revealed to me is that as much as people within the mental health community say we are fighting stigma and abuse, there are many within the community who are perpetuating it themselves.
Over the space of the year I had to deal with gangs of trolls who were relentless in their attacks on me, using the block button on one would only proceed to cause five more accounts to be created.
There were personal disputes, people blocking each other, disagreements on topics such as medication vs psychology, working vs not working, and even who was sicker.
On my personal account I would receive direct messages complaining that a curator said something that somebody found offensive, that I was disgusting for not offering support to people in crisis (they would be referred to Samaritans / GP etc), I would be called names, told I didn't care about people with mental illness.
At first I shrugged these things off, but over the year the name calling, accusations, started to wear me down. I realised that so many people live in their own little bubble and have no clue what their words do to other people. That they are quick to judge others but don't think what calling someone else names can do.
People saw me as a robot, I was just a machine that ran the account. They didn't take into account that I was also a person who was sick with a mental illness and was trying to bring people together to support each other and be open to different opinions.
On Sunday, I am closing Mental Health Voices, the "bright idea" failed, but it was interesting while it lasted, and it has given me plenty to think about for future. I won't give up trying to raise awareness, I will come back with another idea in the future, but right now, this one wasn't to be.