The best support can come from the most unexpected place

Having people around for both the good and bad times is so underrated… and for this I am thankful on this Thanksgiving day for the friends and family near and far who’ve been there when I needed it most these past couple of years.

One of the most peculiar things I have found in times of trauma, crisis or grief is you never know who will be in your support system when you need it most. And you never know what that support will be… it might be just having a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, an invitation to do something, words of wisdom, a hand to help, or a hug for comfort. Sometimes the best support can come from the most unexpected place during an unforeseen situation.

Coincidentally, today is also World Mental Health Day with the theme of “psychological first aid“. When terrible things happen, not only should people be able to provide first aid, but also be able to reach out with a helping hand to those who are affected and provide much-needed psychological support. Empathy and psychological first aid is definitely useful… we will at some point in our lives be at the receiving or supporting end of a trauma, crisis or grief.

General health care never consists of physical first aid alone.

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SMACK-ing communication in the face

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I’ve been drinking a glass of Coke at night for the last couple of weeks. The reason? I have 5 two-liter bottles of Coke sitting on my balcony thanks to my cousins who bought them just to get a free stuffed polar bear as part of the deal. Their excuse was that they were doing market research because they work in the marketing industry for a small agency in London. And why not research and learn from a company/brand that has been around for over 100 years doing some creative marketing that gets you to buy and drink their product?

Warning: this might upset some people… If their communication and marketing strategy has been so successful, why not apply it to other areas and industries, like around social issues (ex. health, climate change, and education)? The strategy behind the “buying” can be applied to other things like getting people to wash their hands properly or to switch to more climate friendly transportation.

If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, you’re in luck. There’s a summer program at New York University that covers the topic/issue from 8-26 July 2013. It’s called the “Integrated Marketing Communication for Behavioral Impact (IMC/COMBI) in Health and Social Development“. Here’s a brief description of the program:

This New York University course in collaboration with the World Health Organization focuses on strategic communication planning for behavioral impact in health and social development… The course stresses that behavioral impact comes with the critical support of effective communication programs purposefully planned for behavioral results, and not directed just at awareness creation, advocacy, or public education.

I took the 3-week course in 2010 and had a blast: met great people in the program, got some interesting insight by visiting some heavy-weights like UNICEF and Burson-Marsteller, fine-tuned presentation and speaking skills, and came up with some innovative communication ideas and plans. After the 3 weeks, you’ll know why you want to “SMACK” communication in the face. :)