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Game of pretend

The social media aesthetic of #mentalhealthawareness

Student Life | Student View

By Emma Troake

Thursday, Oct. 10, was World Mental Health Day.

Thousands and thousands of people took to the internet, and, primarily of course, social media, to share their personal journeys and words of encouragement.

While many of us tend to flock to social media to spread awareness — undeniably an important thing to do — why does it seem to occur only on one occasion?

Posed moments

Scrolling through our feeds every day, we are overwhelmed with photos of our peers’ seemingly perfect lives.

Not many people typically share what they are really feeling or going through. We only see their posed moments of happiness and fun.

“Constantly seeing photos of people . . . creates the ‘fear of missing out.'”

It paints an unrealistic picture that everyone has flawless lives. It pressures us to act the same way online.

Constantly seeing photos of people hanging out with friends, going to parties and other social activities creates the “fear of missing out.”

Body image and self-esteem

Additionally, following celebrities on social media further increases our feelings of imperfection.

It’s difficult to measure up to those who are professionally primped and photographed (and typically edited) most days of their lives. It crushes our body image and self-esteem.

Though many celebrities have spoken up about their personal struggles and mental illnesses, they too continue to perpetuate the mask of a perfect, thrilling and unproblematic life.

Perpetually positive

We are improving by acknowledging in our conversations that some of us have mental health illnesses and are spreading awareness by doing so, but we’re still playing the largest game of pretend.

Every year we (myself included), set aside one day to push mental health awareness on a global scale, then go back to maintaining our established, perfect online lives the next day.

“Instead of creating a meaningful, continuous dialogue regarding mental health and tackling its true causes, we sugar-coat it.”

And truthfully, doesn’t interrupting our selfies, travel photos and personal “aesthetic” with a sincere post or an inspiring quote printed over a cute background also add to our positive online appearance?

It’s grown into a sort of bandwagon social media users feel required to join, and it is evident that some are only posting about it simply because everyone else is.

Instead of creating a meaningful, continuous dialogue regarding mental health and tackling its true causes, we sugar-coat it and wrap it up in a nice bow for social media presentation. For one day of the year, mental health is trending online, and for the next 364 days, it’s near radio silence.

Available supports

The conversation about mental health needs to continue every day of the year.

In aid of this, there are countless mental health support options available online and in person if you feel you need it. Bridge the gApp, an online support resource designed to support mental wellness, has programs for both youth (13-18) and young adults (18-30).

I Can Conquer Anxiety and Nervousness provides telephone support to help young adults learn skills to “overcome their anxiety, excessive worry and how to cope with major life stressors.”

The Student Wellness and Counselling Centre on the St. John’s campus is located at the University Center in UC-5000. Counselling and Psychological Services at Grenfell Campus is located is located in Health Services (BW 243) on the main floor of the Bennett Wing, Arts and Science Residence.

Please reach out if you need help.


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