The excited steps of 50 brave and enthusiastic dancers left an imprint on the minds of many in Bonavista on September 14, 2013. If a journey begins with a single step, then a flash mob of innumerable steps must propel us miles ahead. A flash mob turned heads, changed minds and raised huge awareness for mental illness at this year’s Bonavista Cancer Relay.
Physical illness, like cancer and mental illness, can come on as suddenly and unexpectedly as a flash mob. As Eastern Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Team in Bonavista, our shared hope is that one day mental illness will be treated the same as physical illness.
Hundreds of relay participants were literally stopped in their tracks at the Cancer Relay when Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this Way’ song boldly interrupted the scheduled entertainment and two dancers took to the middle of the floor.
Within seconds, a mob of swinging arms and dancing feet were following suit, which brought with it stunned expressions, flashing cameras and plenty of curiosity. Lady Gaga sings “My mama told me when I was young, we are all born superstars” and in those four minutes and 39 seconds, we were definitely the centre of attention. But more excitedly, so was the topic of mental illness!
Mental illness was in a spotlight that could not be eclipsed and more than 500 people had the privilege to share in its electricity. And so it began, as the snapped pictures, videos and animated commentary of viewers spread throughout the arena, so did the awareness of mental illness.
Since the mob, the offers to spread our message and share in our hope have been contagious. It affirms for us that the spark lit in those few minutes on an arena floor continues to shine and change minds.
Help us keep mental illness in the spotlight by viewing our flash mob video created for Mental Illness Awareness Week which took place this year from October 6 to 12, 2013. ■
This story was written by Melissa Abbott, a registered social worker with Eastern Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program in Bonavista.