While struggles with mental health were traditionally kept private, in recent years a growing number of sufferers are adopting the opposite tack: sharing their mental health battles with the world, via social media.
Celebrities and public figures like actors Dwayne Johnson and Gina Rodriguez and singer Ariana Grande have used social media as a platform to share stories about their mental health and encourage others. Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers began using his Twitter account to share the story of his struggles after writing an article for The Players’ Tribune — a new media company that provides athletes with a platform to connect directly with fans. The article highlighted how he came to realize that sharing improves not only his life, but the lives of others.
People often connect with one another by using hashtags like #TalkingAboutIt and #mentalhealth that have a broad target audience. Others such as #YouGoodMan and #YouOkSis were created specifically for mental health concerns in the African American community. #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike is used by people with that specific problem.
It is also common for organizations to use social media as a platform to share information, tips and strategies. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a Facebook page that provides information about events and a safe space for people to discuss their concerns.
For people who are open about their mental health on social media, there is a possibility that they will face backlash from friends, family or co-workers, says Sammy Nickalls of Lebanon, Pa., an editor and writer who created the hashtag #TalkingAboutIt. But overall, she said, “I think people in general are thinking about mental health differently than they did before, and they’re using social media to reach out for community and support.”