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Beyond the Selfie: A Guide to Authentic Mental Health Advocacy on Social Media

young adult taking selfie.

Social media gives us a wonderful opportunity to share our personal stories. Unfortunately, far too often, people only use it to present the highlight reels of their lives. They edit and filter selfies, snap photos of food, and never go deeper than the surface.

There’s a time and place for things like that, and there’s nothing wrong with sharing your joy on social media. However, if you’re a content creator, social media gives you a platform to go deeper and get more personal, especially when it comes to mental health advocacy.

Advocacy is especially important now. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental illness each year, and 1 in 6 kids between the ages of 6-17 also experience mental health issues. As these younger audiences gravitate toward social media as a way to cope with mental health challenges, sharing your own mental health journey could hold a lot of power. This kind of advocacy includes sharing both your struggles and your triumphs. Your advocacy efforts can contribute to a more open and supportive online community, and you might end up empowering others who are struggling quietly.

The Importance of Using Social Media for Good

Whether you consider yourself a professional content creator or you simply share information with family and friends, there’s no denying that social media is a powerful tool—So powerful that it’s been used in multiple mental health campaigns by organizations with great success and engagement.

The difference between an organization using social media for good and someone making personal content is the connectivity people feel. In today’s busy, tech-forward world, it’s far too easy for people to feel overwhelmed and even anxious when they get overloaded with social media. The companies and organizations that tend to do well and stand out are those that are willing to be more “human” with their content.

People want to feel a personal connection to what they see on social media, including the difficult things that don’t often get publicized or even talked about.

How to Utilize Your Platform

No matter where you are on your social media journey, one of the best ways to promote mental health advocacy is to share your story. Offer things like:

  • Personal anecdotes
  • Low points
  • Success stories
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Q&A sessions

These things are great for content creation but even better for engagement. Your goal shouldn’t necessarily be to gain more followers for the sake of getting famous. If you’re passionate about mental health, your goal should be to make your existing and future followers aware that they aren’t alone and that help is available. By sharing your story (especially your struggles), you’ll connect with people on their own mental health journeys. They might find that they’re able to relate to your story.

In doing so, you’ll create an online community that fits perfectly with the “social” part of social media. Your followers won’t just engage with you; they can start talking to each other and offer their own stories and support. The kind of content that is real, authentic, and sometimes even difficult to share is often what matters the most to your community.

Offer Actionable Advice

Sharing your story allows your fans and followers to better understand who you are. It also builds trust and turns you into more of an authority or influencer. If people are looking to your social media platforms for the next steps on their mental health journeys, you can provide it in safe, healthy, and effective ways. You might end up being the person that triggers someone to reach out to a therapist. Or, you might be the voice someone needs to know they aren’t alone and shouldn’t harm themselves.

Look at your role as a responsibility, and offer support by directing your followers to teletherapy services, mental health organizations, or support groups. You can also empower your followers by offering tips for them to feel more empowered.

For example, your followers with sensory issues might struggle to go out and get the help they deserve. Discuss things like sensory-friendly clothing, which often includes:

  • Natural fabrics
  • Clothes that are easy to get on and off
  • A lack of tags and seams

Talking about clothes on social media might seem like a simple thing, but you never know who it could reach and help. When people feel better about their appearance, it boosts their confidence, and they don’t feel so alone or misunderstood.

By using your social media platform for more than just selfies, you can do your part to break the stigma that, unfortunately, still surrounds many mental health issues. You can serve as a voice for those struggling, giving them someone to relate to and possibly even hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t be afraid to share your story – it can help you through your healing process and build a community of caring.

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About the Author: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter, @KatieBWrites93.

Photo by Julia M Cameron: https://www.pexels.com/photo/girl-holding-black-smartphone-4144290/

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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