What is VSCO?
Parents in Cork expressed outrage today, following the discovery of a number of young Cork girls sharing images on a image sharing platform called VSCO. The self-generated, or user-generated content was described as inappropriate by those who viewed the imagery. VSCO is an image sharing site. It is frequently used by professional photographers, as it offers superior methods of photo and video editing for their content. The platform is in existence for some time. It boasts well in excess of 40 million users. The concept of the platform is to encourage photography. VSCO has a predominantly artistic look and feel, to the majority of the images you find posted on the platform.
It will have come as a shock to many this week, to see a young 24-year-old Dublin woman charged with the defilement of a child, a teenage boy. This is something we have not really seen in Ireland up to now. A very young woman, who if convicted of the alleged offence, will be registered Sex Offender. The reported allegations involve a student from the school she worked in, who was under 17.
In an ever more connected world, young people are feeling more isolated and lonely than ever before. We need to be more conscious of this. The number of young people seeking help for Mental Health related issues is steadily rising year on year. Unfortunately, the increased awareness of Mental Health issues, has not removed the cultural stigma associated with suffering from a mental illness.
People who suffer from issues arising from a decline in their Mental Health, often feel embarrassed, ashamed and even fearful to disclose what they are experiencing to those close to them. People fear the reaction, and possibly the rejection and stigmatization of others. Incredible damage is caused, if those close to you fail to acknowledge your circumstances or use ignorant and unsympathetic commentary like, “sure it’s not that bad”, “why don’t you cheer up”, or “Sure you just have to get on with it”. Without a thought, people offer to sign a cast and offer sympathy if you have a broken leg, some don’t want to know, don’t care, or simply don’t understand, if you have a broken mind. The invisibility of a Mental Illness and the sufferers attempt to conceal it, only contributes more, to the internalizing and suffering being experienced.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We live in a society were people can be really outspoken, in the defence of people who are experiencing a wide range of personal issues and difficulties, both on and off-line. Why should there be any resistance to being open and vocal on the topic of Mental Health? Many feel they have no choice, but to keep their pain and suffering buried deep within themselves. Having to do this consumes a person, from the inside out. For some, it becomes an overwhelming darkness from which eventually they feel like there is no escape. Some are taken to the edge of an abyss of internal darkness. From here we con sometimes lose those are closest to us, because of a mistaken belief, it is easier for them just to step off. All that then remains is the question, why?
The time to ask questions is now. The time to make changes in how we approach Mental Health issues, is now. Our immediate priority, is need to protect our youngest and most vulnerable. To learn from past mistakes, regarding how we have treated those who suffered with a Mental Illness. Become more aware of how common it is. Start the conversation, ask the questions, begin to provide genuine support. We all play a pivotal role in helping people to recover, by breaking down the barriers of ignorance and raising awareness and understanding of what it is to suffer from a Mental Illness. It’s not something to hide or be ashamed of, it’s just an unfortunate part of the life for your Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister, Husband, Wife, Relative or Friend.
In an ever more connected world, where we people are feeling more isolated and lonely, pause for a moment and ask, not only “How are you getting on?”, but also “How are you getting on – Online?”. Be open and honest in your reply, when people ask you these questions. Teach your children and teens to do the same. My belief is after you tell somebody how your feeling, you may be pleasantly surprised to hear them respond, “#SameHere”.