Accentuate the positive

Date: 2nd March 2021

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

John Robertson is currently off his work.

If a memo or email like that came round staff at our work, there would be a five minute’s smattering of concern then followed by plenty of people asking the obvious question – why?

When told that he was just taking time out for the moment a few might push, some may ponder in private and most would make assumptions. At some point we would forget.

When I read of the current Inverness manager taking time away to be temporarily replaced by Neil McCann, I went looking. Well, I did, until I realized what it was that I was doing.

I can lay the blame on looking for an interesting story or having a writer’s instinct that the is a story there, but I suppose I really just wanted to know. I was nosy.

It is none of my business.

Surprisingly, I found very little by way of detail and it made me ponder.

For the first time, in a very long time, privacy seemed to be being respected. Whatever someone has taken time away for his job to do has been left for him to do it. It has not been accompanied by a pack of wolves at his door demanding that the wider interest of the general public be served by everyone knowing the business of a private individual and can they spill the beans? At least not as far as I am aware.

So good on you, the media.

There was a degree of irony in it when it happened in the week that the Celtic manager fell on his sword and resigned. Neil Lennon who bravely talked of his battles with depression and has endured the type of systemic racism (I agree with him that the word – sectarianism – is used by many as an excuse for what it is – racism) during his time in Scotland that is quite simply disgraceful, leaves with his head in the air.

It has been a tough time for him and though I don’t know the man, I have heard enough from people around him to know that he was as hurt over what was going on as any supporter. It is big news in the football world and fodder for many. Not for me.

Each week I take some spat in the footballing universe and play about with it to find the humour for SFSA in my accompanying scurrilous piece for the website. Lennon leaving would have been ideal material. Neil down the Job Centre, Neil in arbitration, Neil anywhere where cruel humour can be found.

But I don’t find anything funny about anyone losing their job. The loss of a job is even less funny in the midst of a pandemic.

Now I know that Neil Lennon is unlikely to be trying to survive on Universal Credit as he sees Easter looming and that his weans are more likely to get their Easter Eggs than most but losing your job is a blow to your mental wellbeing. No matter who you are.

In a little way both of these stories illustrate the way in which we have responsibility to stop posting things about it being OK not to be OK and how we behave when we hear that someone is suffering. The lack of things being written, the lack of people making quick currency out of the struggles of others is how we start to rebuild credibility in our communities over how mental illness is seen and dealt with in a more positive fashion.

Of course, social media is full of bile.

Social media always is.

And the number of people being prosecuted for malicious communications is increasing – thankfully. The man who posted vile abuse about Captain Tom, the doughty fighter who went for a walk to raise millions for the NHS should have the book thrown at him. I say that, not because I am a royalist, a family member or at all supportive of the major institution like the NHS having to depend upon charity like his remarkable feat but because it was vile, unnecessary and should be a warning to all other trolls.

And as I type this I also realise the irony of what I have written too…

That by mentioning these people, even in praise of institutions taking positive steps I am adding to the column inches of their respective plights. I never said it was easy, but we should always accentuate the positive as the song goes…


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