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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Questioning the future of the MHBA

Why I’m questioning the future of the MHBA

Over the last week I have seen messages discussing the failures and perceived negative aspects of the Mental Health Blog Awards, and it’s been hard.

This is a project I have worked hard on for 4 years and while there has been amazing support from volunteers and supporters, I have put a lot of time, effort and emotion into the project personally. This year will happen as it’s planned and I want it to be great. But, I am seriously considering if this will be the last year.

I don’t think I’ve publicly said before, but, every year so far the Awards has run at a loss. Which is something I have accepted because I feel there’s a social value and importance to the Awards, which I am prepared to support financially.

I understand, and agree that the Awards are not perfect. That’s why each year we have openly asked for feedback from attendees and non attendees. Each year we have actioned the feedback, one example of this action is the inclusion of speakers for the first time at last years event. Which has been a great evolution.

I get that the idea of ‘Awards’ is difficult for some to accept, including me. But it’s thinking and reflecting on what they mean. Often, I have found those critical of the Awards have never attended or interacted with us and so are basing a viewpoint on just the name. Which again I can understand, even if I don’t agree.

There are other awards events which focus on many different aspects of blogging and online networking/ influence. However the focus often is on ‘larger’ numbered ‘communities’ such as travel, beauty, and fashion. I don’t see why those sharing stories or signposting about mental health shouldn’t be celebrated.

Our Awards attempts to provide a focus on mental health, an important but often avoided topic. Equally importantly, we/ I focus on mental health, not just mental illness. The Awards are not and never have been about ‘who is the most ill’. Personally I find this suggestion ill informed, dismissive and offensive.

Our Awards are not always representative of everyone, but I never seen an Awards event that is. You simply do your best.

All nominations are accepted in our first round, so a lack of representation at this stage is arguably because of a lack of reach more than anything else; which maybe another issue.

A change we may make if 2021 happens, is to make nominations self nomination only. Which is a shame as we will lose a lot of people who wouldn’t self nominate; and those are the people that the Awards are really for. The unsung, those sharing their story (challenges and/ successes) and signposting without exception of a thank you or recognition.

Unfortunately there is no ideal answer, no ideal venue, no ideal winners. I do the best I can, and I kinda thought that was enough and that was a goodish job.

I kind of feel there’s a lot of criticism without suggestions on how improvements could be made. And made realistically, venues usually cost, an admin team costs, a website costs, booklets and awards cost (it goes on...)

It just feels like a challenge, and maybe a challenge too far.

I know the Awards have been great for some and they’ve been amazing for others. I’m going to try and hold onto that today.

I look forward to seeing those attending this years event, it’ll be as good as possible.

But I am kinda heartbroken.


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