It’s mental health awareness week, friends!
Over the past few months I have cultivated a more conscious and healthy engagement with social media, most significantly Instagram. Paramount to that endeavor was unsubscribing from quite a number of IG peeps whose content did nothing for me beyond mindless “entertainment”. Internet drama, modeling, or the constant sale of products – be it their own creations or #ads – have no place in my social media feed anymore. They contribute nothing positive to my life and after having made the decision to be more mindful about how and where I spend my time and mental energy, I kicked quite a few of them to the curb.
How do I spend my time on the gram now? Well, by subscribing to certain celebrities or creators whose projects, attitudes and values I can share and support, or at the very least whose opinions and creations make me keep an open mind. It has given me a far more positive, happy outlook where I don’t constantly try to measure up or compare myself to an arbitrary standard put forth by the fashion/travel/lifestyle industries. I was never that impressed by the blatant flexing or the work-hard-play-hard life that so many IG creators pretend to have. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t ‘influenced’ in more subconscious ways, at the very least. And how could you not if that’s all you see all day every day?
So, I’ve joined a movement that values community, sustainability, equality and respect. There is a group of celebs and content creators who vehemently and actively, with raised metaphorical torches, fight an uphill battle against stigma surrounding mental illness and the silence that has been forced upon the sufferers for decades for fear of ridicule, threatened job security or even violence.
But instead of talking in abstract terms about very real concepts, here’s a list of the most inspired advocates for mental health currently in my IG feed:
This very outspoken activist has been in the media and on everyone’s mind for the last few weeks. First, she took on Goliath in the form of Kim Kardashian by speaking out against the dangers of promoting ‘slimming’ teas or supplements that a) have no scientifically proven effect and b) promote a culture that reduces women to the flatness of their tummies. An entire movement was created out of her feeling fed up with body shape/kilos/appearance being given more weight (pun fully intended) than achievements, knowledge, happiness and a million more important parts that make up a person. One fateful picture has sparked an explosion of self-love and positive self-images that have nothing to do with bodies.
You can find Jameela here and her i_weigh movement’s IG here.
That’s right, we stan The Good Place on this blog. But beyond being one of the most lovable actresses in all of Hwood, she’s also taking the ‘all cards on the table’ approach to mental health advocacy. Having been on a continuous journey with medication for depression/anxiety as well as going to therapy, Kristen’s advice to “just talk about it” resonates with so many people, myself included. Struggling with a mental illness (or even simply mental unwellness) is difficult enough on its own. Add to that the shame and fear surrounding being open and forthright about those struggles, asking for help or simply looking to not carrying that burden alone, makes it ten times worse. No physical illness is so stigmatized that a mere conversation about treatment has become a taboo topic. Kristen Bell does a wonderful job in bringing it out into the open.
You can find and follow her here.
If you’ve been around YouTube these past few years, you’ve probably heard of this actress/director/storyteller/entrepreneur/musician/probably 500 other professions. A good chunk of her videos are centered around the theme of self-reflection, introspection and self-discovery. She openly speaks about her experiences with talk therapy, anti-depressants and self-help books but also about the issues that those treatment options are trying to tackle: depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, suicidal thoughts, etc. One way she engages with these issues is to use them as fuel for her art, straightforwardly by making talkie videos on how her every-day life is affected, or artistically by writing poems and, more recently, music. She is one of the most hard-working people I’ve ever encountered and her approach of turning pain into something beautiful and entertaining is hugely inspiring.
Her Instagram is here and her YouTube channel here.
Not only are we lucky to have people with a large audience speak out against the taboo and stigma around the work we all do to reach or sustain our mental health, we’re also lucky that we ourselves can do our part by breaking the silence and by giving a big fat middle finger to shame culture. We don’t have to function like machines, our value has nothing to do with financial profits.
Talking about mental health means we choose to be vulnerable and let go of the idea that taking care of ourselves makes us weak or selfish or imperfect. There’s strength in being real and there’s strength in owning our vulnerability.
As I like to say: Our revolution will be a soft one.
Happy mental health awareness week!