11 Oct Inspirational: Irish Influencers Posting American Number For Mental Health Support
Yesterday’s Irish budget coincided with #WorldMentalHealthDay, a global initiative to help break the stigma associated with it and encourage people to reach out and ask for help in times of mental and emotional stress.
The budget saw an increase in health spending of €685m which is meant to allow for an additional 1800 staff across numerous areas, including mental health services.
A step in the right direction, some might say.
Thankfully many of our beloved influencers didn’t miss the fact that it was World Mental Health Day either, a day to support people in times of distress, but more importantly, a day to stay relevant and use a hashtag to ensure your Twitter and Instagram gains exposure and your profile benefits from the goodwill of appearing like a kind, caring and altruistic person.
Brands love those traits and are more willing to join you in a “collab” to promote the latest waist trainer skinny tea debit card you can tap on the side of a private jet in Monaco. #SoExciting
Trending global hashtags are crucial to get on board with if you want to promote your online persona.
What’s The Problem?
Surely encouraging people to talk about mental health is a good thing? It is. Providing grossly inaccurate information isn’t. It’s dangerous.
Numerous Irish ‘Influencers” posted on Instagram and Snapchat yesterday the number to text if you were feeling anxious or needing to talk. I say posted, I should be more accurate and say copy and pasted the number. Typing out the text is a little bit too much work, even if you’re feeling suicidal, a screenshot is all you’re getting.
Also too much work is taking 20 seconds to google the information and make sure you’re actually providing something your followers, who you so desperately care about, can actually use to get help. (I mean, influencing is a 24/7 job, googling something, especially when you’re not getting sponsored to do it, is just a massive waste of time.)
Turns out that the copy and pasted number was an America number, that would do absolutely nothing to anyone feeling stressed or depressed here in Ireland.
I know, “what’s the problem, at least they are talking about mental heath!”. I thought that at first too, but when the level of concern and care for the mental health issues in this country comes down to 5 seconds to screenshot the wrong number and spread that to your followers, you have to question these people’s real concerns and hold them to a higher standard.
No one needs reminding of how badly affected this country is in relation to the issue. We have the 4th highest rate of suicide in our teenagers in Europe and suicide is the leading cause of death in men in Ireland between the ages of 15-34.
But sure, once you look like you care, once you carve out a social media presence that appears to be concerned, that’s all that matters right?
I know, I keep ragging on Influencers, when will I actually get over it? When they stop posting bullshit. When they stop posting about things they have absolutely no expertise, experience or credibility in.
I recently chatted to Dr. Ciara Kelly about the dangers of uninformed influencers with regard to health and nutrition, now they are wandering into the complex area of mental health. And why, not because they are concerned, not because they care, but because they want to stay relevant. They want to stay in your feed.
Numerous people shared stories, talked about their struggles and helped raise awareness and of course, as someone who has worked directly with people suffering from mental health issues, that’s important, encouraging and incredibly useful.
What’s not is thoughtlessly posting the wrong information without even taking less than a minute to make sure you’re providing something people can use.
What they did was set people up for another failure. And that’s not good enough.
- Samaritans 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)
- Pieta House 1800 247247 or email email@example.com – (suicide, self-harm)
- Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
- Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)