The world of social media has played a huge part in furthering awareness and understanding of mental health issues. We have to ask though, how much do clichéd phrases about selfcare and meditation really help?
Whenever I open social media, I am inevitably greeted with some variation of a motivational quote. It will be written over a pastel or sunset background. If you’re someone who is experiencing mild symptoms of your mental illness or are having a good day, It can certainly be helpful or uplifting to read on occasion.
Motivation For Chronic Illnesses
However, what if you suffer from severe symptoms or chronic mental health issues? Well, in my personal experience, when I’m at my lowest points, these posts make me feel worse. The problem with them is that they make the situation sound very easy.
“Just remember to focus your energy on the important things in life”
“Tomorrow is a new day”
“You’re in control”
“Remember to love yourself”
Ignoring the problematic use of the word ‘remember’, (as if we’ve simply forgotten to do these things), the fact of the matter is, these things aren’t simple or easy at all. In fact, implying that a few affirmations and a bubble bath will fix your brain is, quite frankly, condescending.
Indeed, the use of motivational quotes in mental health spaces on social media does a really good job of dismissing the huge emotional and physical effect chronic mental health issues have. You can’t meditate your way out of chronic anxiety. You can’t positive think your way out of clinical depression. It is also important to acknowledge the dangers of online, uninformed, armchair psychologists.
As someone who struggles with clinical depression, I know that these suggestions don’t work for me. Deep down I know that they’re not meant for me at all. The problem is, when I’m struggling, its hard to not let these types of posts make me feel like I’m failing at managing my mental health. I’m sure I’m not alone in that either.
Keep Positivity, Add Action
To clarify, I am not in any way suggesting that people should stop making this type of content, it is really helpful for a lot of people. There should be more positive, kind, caring posts on social media, so if you make them, keep on going!
What we need to change is the idea that social media awareness posts and motivational, positive content are an adequate answer to our increasing mental health crisis. We need to look past the smoke screen and lobby our local and national government to push for properly funded mental health services in our country.
It is not the responsibility of social media users to try and fix the nations or the worlds mental health.