How to Combat Mental Health Stigma with Trending Posts
You can use trending social media posts to combat mental health stigma. Every once in a while, a “copy and paste this post” about mental illness will make its way across social media (Use Social Media to Combat Mental Health Stigma). These posts are typically short or a couple paragraphs long, which is likely how they gain traction since short and sweet is easier to deal with and then move on from. That being said, these trending posts about mental health usually don’t do much to combat stigma.
I bring this up because there was a post I saw recently which intended to demonstrate to people who struggle with thoughts of suicide that there are people out there who do listen. I had a few problems with this post in terms of the language used and so forth, but I’m going to focus on the fact that this short, two sentence post didn’t do anything to challenge stigma.
Transforming Trending Posts to Fight Mental Health Stigma
Many, although not all, of the mental health copy-paste, trending posts on the Internet, while well intended, don’t do much more than say that a mental illness exists, that it affects people, and that there are people out there who will support those with mental illnesses. That’s all well and good, and maybe it will engage a few people beyond the copy and paste stage, but I think if a post is trending, then we should use it to the best of our abilities and give it the opportunity to have an even bigger impact.
Before anyone starts panicking, I’m not asking people to out themselves. I know not everyone is comfortable with sharing about his or her mental illness, and that is perfectly okay.
What I’m asking is that if we see a post that says something along the lines of “Copy and paste this post to raise awareness for depression. You’re not alone,” take that a step further and include a link to depression information and resources. It’s just a link, and that way those who want more information know where to look for it.
Why Mental Health Information Makes a Difference in Trending Posts to Combat Stigma
One of the things I’ve learned as a writer is making every word count. I had one professor in university that said if he was finished reading a sentence, or an entire essay, and was left with the question, “So what?” that was a problem. And I think that translates over to these trending posts as well.
Just pointing out that mental illnesses exist, that people suffer with them, and that people are there to listen doesn’t do much besides that. Let’s go back to that theoretical post I made above: “Copy and paste this post to raise awareness for depression. You are not alone.” Okay, that’s nice. Now what? Where do people go from here?
Many people aren’t sure how to reach out or what mental illness really encompasses. It would be great if people would be proactive and search for these things afterwards, but let’s make it easier for them by giving a link, especially to a source that we know and trust is going to give the correct information. (There are too many websites full of misinformation and outdated information out there.) Taking that extra step and providing that link will help inform people and information is one of our greatest tools against stigma. That will combat mental health stigma with a trending post.
So next time you come across one of those posts, find a link that you trust and include it with the post. That way when someone shares it from you, they can take that along with it.
Barton, L. (2016, November 27). How to Combat Mental Health Stigma with Trending Posts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/survivingmentalhealthstigma/2016/11/how-to-combat-mental-health-stigma-with-trendy-posts