Creating Positive Online Spaces to Discuss Mental Health
With great online presence comes great responsibility. That’s why organizations are working to create spaces online that promote positivity, raise awareness for mental health and offer support or resources for those who need them. We’ve gathered some recent campaigns that organizations and individuals have put together to wield the power of social media for positive change.
Kind Comments: This summer, Instagram has created a promotional video for its #KindComments campaign in which influential teens on Instagram share the positive and inspirational comments others leave on their posts. The hope is that the video, and use of the hashtag, will promote kindness on and offline by showcasing what these comments mean to the recipients. Here for you: This past May, Instagram also launched the #HereForYou campaign which celebrates the people who are creating a safe place on the platform to support and help other users who are dealing with mental health issues. As part of the campaign, which was rolled out for Mental Health Awareness Month, the website built in a feature for users to report other people who appear to be at risk for mental health issues. The site will then connect that person with local resources that they might find helpful the next time they log on.
Besides the work Instagram has done to promote mental health online, many of its users have taken the initiative to create supportive communities themselves, with feeds about body positivity and accounts detailing the experiences people have with depression or anxiety, among others.
Fearlessly faceless: Two Instagram users and friends Lexie Manion, 22, and Dani Appel, 16, began a campaign where people who are struggling, or have struggled in the past, with an eating disorder regram a plain image that says “I am #FearlesslyFaceless” on a black background rather than a picture of themselves. In the description, they can share their story, or simply why they chose to share the image, if they don’t want to put their personal information out there.
The idea of the campaign is for participants to show solidarity among people with disordered eating. By not including a photo of themselves, the posts take the focus away from what the poster’s body looks like, and puts it on their struggle. This is meant to emphasize that people who have eating disorders don’t have one particular look, but that eating disorders affect people of all different races, ages, genders, body types and sexual orientations.
It’s OK to talk: Last year, a Twitter campaign took off encouraging men to talk about their mental health by posting a selfie of themselves giving the OK sign, with the hashtag #itsoktotalk. Participants then nominate their friends to do the same.
The movement was started by UK rugby player Luke Ambler, whose brother died by suicide when he was 23. He was shocked by the statistics regarding men and suicide – 45 percent of men aged 18 to 45 have considered suicide – and he wanted to create a space where men could talk about their life problems and mental health. Ambler also created the website Andy’s Man Club, named after his brother, to continue that mission.
National Depression Screening Day: October 5, Screening for Mental Health hosts National Depression Screening Day to raise awareness for mental health and encourage individuals to take the free anonymous screening either online or in person. The screenings are available every day of the year, but NDSD is meant to help reduce the stigma of mental health disorders, encourage people to be proactive in their mental health, and make screening for mental illnesses as common as for physical illnesses. This year’s theme, Speaking Your Mind, focuses on talking about your experience with mental health. Whether you tell one person, talk to a doctor or mental health professional or become an advocate for mental health awareness, it’s important to share your story to help yourself and help others. You can help support the campaign by using the hashtags #NDSD and #SpeakYourMind. For more information on the day, visit our website at mentalhealthscreening.org.