I have recently noticed an important trend on the internet, and on Youtube vlogs (i.e. video blogging) specifically.
Jacksgap channel (@JacksGap), run by Jackson and Finn Harries, reflects on mental health following a conversation with a friend.
Relatable young content creators are sharing their own mental health struggles and advocating against the silence and shame surrounding common concerns such as sadness, loneliness, lack of motivation, and fears. Some vloggers go as far as to mention specific psychological disorders by name – such as depression, anxiety, or seasonal affective disorder.
In turn, their fans (many of them young teens) are responding positively to these vloggers’ normalizing messages around emotional distress. Many fans go on to share their own experiences of emotional crises in the vlog comment sections.
Sarah Hawkinson (@sarahmhawkinson), undergrad psychology student and vlogger, describes managing Seasonal Affective Disorder.
It is only once people see that it is everyday people like you and me that struggle with mental illness that the conversation can open up and the stigma be further dissolved. With increased dialogue also comes the potential for more support – an essential element of the healing process.
Model and writer, Travis Bryant (@TravisBryantNYC), reaches out to his fans while low.
As a therapist, it is heart-warming to see the discussion around mental health taking place on increasingly accessible online platforms. This bodes well for the youth as they navigate the challenges of life.
There is no need for anyone in distress to suffer in silence. Reach out to a friend or loved one, or consider seeking therapy. While you may feel this way, remember that you are not alone!
Ethan Hethcote (@ethanhethcote), of Mark and Ethan fame (@markemillr), discusses his recent emotional struggles and encourages fans to talk about how they are feeling.
DeMoss, J. (2015, 11 February). Vloggers Changing the Dialogue on Mental Health. Huffington Post. Available online: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dustin-demoss/vloggers-changing-the-dia_b_6650914.html . Last accessed: Tuesday, 08 September 2015.
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Fred Walter is a Johannesburg-based clinical psychologist offering short and longer term therapy to adolescents and adults.