Depression is real. Anxiety is real. Eating disorders are real. Mental Illnesses are real.
Whilst the notion of being sick without having physical symptoms may be relatively new to societal acceptance, there is today (thankfully) little to no denying that a person can appear to be completely fine externally, but be simultaneously sick internally.
The acceptance of people and by people for mental illness is growing, and personally, I could not be happier. Nobody should ever feel alone or embarrassed or judged or forbidden from expressing their emotions, no matter how rational or irrational, valid or invalid they may appear – the truth is, even your irrational thoughts are valid. Validity does not rely on whether what you’re thinking is factually correct or makes verbal sense. Validity depends on whether what you’re thinking makes you feel something. If you feel anything at all – good or bad or neutral – then both your thoughts and emotional state are valid. You are valid.
As I mentioned, however, this acceptance and growing awareness for the acceptance of mental illness is relatively new over the past few decades. More and more organizations and businesses and cultures and groups are jumping on board to support one another – and I am so happy to see that Instagram is using its incredible reach and power through social media to attempt to make a change.
Instagram has recently added a new feature –
Now, should you see a photo or read a caption that implies or suggests to you that the author of that content is struggling personally or emotionally, you have the option to anonymously ‘flag’ their photo. Essentially, this means that Instagram will send them a message saying: “Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.”
From here, Instagram supplies the person with different avenues to seek help, reach out, or simply research and explore further their personal position. Instagram as a company worked together with other organizations to create a way of helping others that allows for outreach without appearing invasive of personal privacy.
This is a big step for Instagram – a platform that is often attributed to lowering self-esteem and creating issues via accounts that promote body image dysmorphia, inaccurate realities and unrealistic goals for many teenagers and young adults, their step towards making social media a place of care and outreach is a big one, and a positive one.
We should embrace the ability to care for each other via technology and reach out (even if anonymously) to those who may need it – especially if and when they aren’t aware of their own needs.
Mental illness is real – but it can also be confronted, if we act correctly, swiftly, and with love.