While being too absorbed in technology is not always the best, the internet can be useful in combating mental illness stigma. Here are two TED Talks of how social media can empower people to talk about their mental illness.
Photographer and aspiring filmmaker Tara Ösp Tjörvadóttir’s “Can Social Media Improve Our Mental Health?” is about how she created a hashtag to help end the stigma of mental health. Tjörvadóttir talks about how she almost took her own life as a result of being depressed. She always considered herself very introverted in that she did not like to talk about her mental illness in fear that no one would take it seriously.
Tara Ösp Tjörvadóttir wrote a private Facebook message to her mom to send to a close relative who was also battling depression but felt she could not tell anyone. In the Facebook message was her experience with suicide attempts and the close relative felt inspired to see a doctor after. This inspired Tjörvadóttir to share her story with an online publisher and many students in her class read it. Tjörvadóttir helped create the hashtag #ImNotTaboo in order for other people to inspire their stories. By doing this, Tjörvadóttir was able to help get rid of the stigma behind mental illness and will hopefully inspire the world to do more to treat mental illness.
Mental health researcher Bridianne O’Dea’s “Is Your Phone Bad For Your Mental Health?” is about how the phone can be used as a mental health tool towards suicide prevention. She explains how every fifteen minutes, someone is checking their phone. A friend in your social media can be posting a picture of themselves doing something risky or out of character. At the Black Dog Institute where O’Dea works, they discovered that there are 15,000 suicide-related search terms and monitored Twitter to look for the signs. Some people on Twitter and Facebook make posts during their darkest hour about their depression in subtle ways and people tend to glance over it. O’Dea also says that more people are comfortable sharing with their friends about their depression than with their parents or their teachers. You have a good chance of a friend reaching out to you towards social media. It is important not to ignore these signs and to really take a look at what is in your feed for any signs that a friend is asking for help.
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