Social media influencers play a massive role in mental health advocacy, and over the years we have seen many influencers successfully promote healthy and open dialogues pertaining to mental health. Mental health and the way we as individuals approach it is very important, and if we do so in the wrong manner, we risk hurting people who struggled or continue to struggle with mental health problems.
In 2017 I saw the first big scandal on YouTube regarding mental health and that was the Logan Paul vlog regarding Aokigahara forest, a Japanese forest known as the Sea of Trees, or, more recently, “The Suicide Forest.” The forest, which is historically known as a resting place for ghosts according to Japanese folklore, is a popular suicide site. YouTuber Logan Paul video blogged his trip in Japan, which featured his visit to the forest where he filmed the deceased body of a suicide victim. Logan is heard to make a few jokes about the scene after discovering the body, which caused a massive uproar throughout the world.
Over the years, with social media growing more prominent in our daily lives and with influencers becoming popular celebrities, their opinions are being taken more seriously by the younger generation.
Another example of influencers making comments about mental health is the controversial ItGalz “The Ick” podcast. One of the podcasts released throughout the month of December was focused on “the ick,” a recently coined internet term with a similar meaning to “turn off.” Jenny Claffey made a comment in which she said men who participate in the performative charity “Movemeber” give her “the ick.” In this episode, we can hear Lindsay Hamilton laugh at Jenny’s comment. Many people take this comment as the girls making a mockery of the charity itself, while others believe it was targeted at men who view the charity as a trend and an excuse to show off their moustaches, but haven’t actually done anything to meaningfully help the cause.
The comments sparked massive outrage on Twitter and Instagram, but what spiked my interest was how many people who simultaneously advocated for mental health while also wishing death upon fans of the podcast and the two hosts online. Even as social media evolves, our grasp on how to deal with the impact it has on our collective mental health hasn’t really changed. There has been a link made between those who heavily use social media and those who struggle with depression, anxiety, loneliness, and self-harm.
During these hard times please make sure you check in on your friends and family, It is very easy to end up isolating yourself during difficult times by scrolling too far on social media.
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