Where Do We Draw The Line Between Destigmatization And Romantization Of Mental Health Issues On Social Media?

Nowadays one cannot scroll through social media sites like Facebook,Twitter,Instagram etc without coming across posts by people who have been supposedly affected,in one way or the other,by mental health issues be it anxiety,depression,bipolar disorder and the whole array of others.

Although this has allowed people with legitimate cases of these mental health issues to finally be able to come out and express themselves without feeling like the "odd one out",it has also created a problem in which addressing these issues is no longer done as a way of destigmatizing them and asking for help but as a way of "being cool" or appealing to more people so as to fit in.

Social media culture is romanticizing these mental health issues and turning them into more or less of a way of life instead of serious ailments that need to be addressed. When one gets on Instagram for example,they can see a whole of pages which feature the so called "influencers" posting pictures which aestheticize mental health issues.

Tumblr,the social media site which one might call the pioneer of the romantization of mental health issues,is rife with imagery which depict the likes of bipolar disorder and depression in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Because of social anxiety being considered the new cool,the trend has shifted from #fomo to #jomo or joy of missing out. People have shifted to a mindset which takes pride in toxic traits like isolation because it is what appeals to people around them on social media.

Social media sites are also alleviating this romantization because of the filter bubble created by intellectual isolation as a result of how their algorithms work. A filter bubble causes a scenario whereby people  who post about their mental health issues get recommended and hence interact with people who also post about such in a "if you liked reading this then you will like this" kind of fashion.

This then creates a situation whereby these people are surrounded by people who also think like them leading to the aforementioned intellectual isolation. I will provide the following example as an analogy. User A tweets something about their anxiety. Because of the filter bubble,User A is followed by User B and C who then "likes" this tweet. The affirmation provided by this "liking" provides a psychological nudge for User A to post more similar content so as to get more affirmations.

This then means User A will not get the chance to see posts from people who might help her escape the toxicity that comes with the glorification of such mental ailments but will instead be bombarded with more and more posts of people who are promoting the same toxicity.

As aforementioned,it is a welcome mindset for more people to find it easy to share stories about their struggles with mental health issues but the problem with the glamorization that come with it is that it blurs the line between people who are actually legitimate about their struggles and people who are self deprecating for attention and aesthetics.

This consequently leads more and more people wrongfully self diagnosing  so as to fit the accepted and glorified character of someone suffering from a mental health disorder. Some examples of cases of wrongful self diagnosis include people considering sadness as depression,nervousness as anxiety and being upset as being bipolar.

The only real judge of someone's medical condition should be a trained medical practitioner but the persistent mentality is that User A will see User B who happens to be a popular "influencer" say they have depression then, after comparing their symptoms,they would also come to the conclusion that they are also depressed though they might not be.

These cases of wrongful self diagnosis can sometimes even lead to the abuse of some opioids like Xanax and Oxycotin because,after this wrongful self diagnosis,they will take them without a prescription to try treat a condition which might not have even existed in the first place.

The other problem this glorification can cause is that people who are legitimately suffering from these mental ailments can end up adopting wrong treatment techniques instead of pursuing legitimate medical help. For example,a person who has a real case of anxiety disorder can end up doing futile "breathing exercises" recommended by a self diagnosed person instead of going to a medical practitioner who would have recommended correct and efficient ways of dealing with that disorder.

Social media has played a very commendable role in the destigmatization of mental health disorders despite the negative consequences that have also come with this welcome development. Education therefore has to be imparted with users about the importance of seeking professional medical opinion if they think they have a mental health disorder so that they can get professional help if they actually have a particular mental disorder.

Social media companies also have a responsibility to counter the propagation of the glorification and commercialization of serious mental health issues that is so rife on their sites. They should take initiative to stop this toxic trait by having stern regulations in place which will deter the forementioned ills.




Comments

  1. absolutely happy someone said it, love this

    ReplyDelete
  2. I disagree with your arguments, but the overall sentiment that we should avoid glorifying mental illness is sound. Your recommendation that people seek professional help is wise, but remember that not everyone has access to affordable healthcare.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hey Anonymous,thanks for partaking in the conversation.i agree that not everyone has no access to professional medical opinions but i believe that this lack of access should not be substituted with self diagnosis.can i please know which of the arguments you disagree with?

      Cheers

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