Is Social Media Glamourizing Mental Illness?

When scrolling through your social media channels, how often do you see mental health buzz words like “depressed” or “anxiety” thrown around casually? 

I’m sure the answer is often; it’s become so normalized we don’t even think twice about it!

With the 21st century came the emergence of greater mental health awareness along with the dismantling of the stigma attached to it. Treatments have become more accessible, and many of those who struggle are able to identify their illness so that they can learn how to manage it. A major pro of these advancements: those struggling are no longer made to feel isolated and misunderstood in their personal battles.

But has the conversation around mental illness become too desensitized? Buzz terms like, “depression” and “anxiety”, are sometimes so loosely thrown around when it comes to online jokes and memes. One person has a big midterm tomorrow and decides the nervous feeling that they’re experiencing must mean they suffer from anxiety while another person tweets about being depressed because their favourite team lost a game.

Choosing to open up online about living with a mental illness is therapeutic for many. Living with one is often a heavy burden to carry and the openness we see on the internet allows others with the same struggle to feel understood and validated in the best possible way. Social media platforms such as sadgirlsclub on Instagram provides a space for a dialogue surrounding mental health, through uplifting and supporting those who are a part of the community.  

Unfortunately, in some cases, the open rhetoric surrounding mental illness has encouraged many to handle the topic in an irresponsible manner which causes those who really do struggle to feel invalidated.

Glamorizing mental illness can be very isolating for those who would do anything to rid themselves of it. The isolation that comes with mental illness being glamorized on social media further contributes to the monster that living with one feels like for many because now they are left to question why it feels so hard for seemingly just them.

Dismantling the “cool culture” behind mental illness on social media begins with paying very close attention to our language surrounding mental health and considering how this may contribute to the impact it has on others. Just as there is no shame in having a mental illness, there is no shame in not having one.

Fleeting feelings that are simply a byproduct of existing does not equate to being mentally ill. Feeling sad does not mean you are depressed; stress and anxiety are not synonymous. Mental illnesses are very real but not everyone has one, it’s not something you can put down and pick up because it’s convenient, in fact, it’s entirely inconvenient.

Today is world suicide prevention day. If you or someone you know struggles with a mental illness, there are many resources available to you. If you need immediate help, click here.