Why Normalizing Mental Health in the Media is Good 

Ashley Donahue

More stories from Ashley Donahue

Recently, in the media, common issues like anxiety are being normalized, and this could forever change how people view themselves for the better. 

By this I mean, social media platforms have been recently seeing users making posts trying to make people feel comfortable in their own skin. The main platforms where you will see these posts, from what I’ve seen, are Instagram and TikTok. 

These posts will include things like people purposely showing their acne, showing off their different body types (such as stomachs, stretch marks, cellulitis, etc.), talking about their personal journeys with mental health, etc. 

Normalizing common issues is good because it brings together communities by showing that you’re not alone, and there are people you can relate to. 

One example of this is when ninth grade student Katie Hayward posted a story on Snapchat talking about weight. 

In this Snapchat post, Hayward explains how her weight has always been a struggle for her. 

“-I have always wanted to reach 100 pounds, and now that I am one pound away, I am beyond happy,” stated Hayward on December 14.

Another example of someone close to home normalizing different body types is ninth grade student Grace “Gracie” Ethem. 

Ethem has an Instagram highlight that consists of posts that say “Every body is beautiful”, “Don’t let your mind bully your body”, and other things of that nature. 

By becoming an activist for weight loss, others who may be going through the same issues can talk to them about it and finally find people who understand. 

If you don’t have anyone to talk to in person, you can find people to talk to online about your suffering. 

A prime example of this is posting easy ways to reach out. On December 15, Red Lion student Makenzie Draper reposted a list of different hotlines that you can call if you are currently struggling. 

Recently, users have been putting pronouns in their social media bios. For example, ninth grade student Mitchell Kilgore has put ‘he/him’ in his TikTok bio. 

This is an amazing thing, because it encourages others who are uncomfortable with the pronouns they’re currently being called, to reach out and let others know their preference. 

On the same note as making others feel comfortable, many are also putting things such as ‘safe place’ somewhere on their account to let their account viewers know that all are welcome on their platform. 

Kids are more likely to reach out to someone and not keep suffering if other people are talking about it and it’s normalized. As it says on the ‘National Alliance on Mental Illness’, the first step to normalizing mental health is to openly want to talk about it. 

Another way to encourage others to reach out by being open to talking about the signs of mental illness. 

Molly Smith from New Jersey posts daily Instagram stories about the signs of mental illness and how to help others who have mental illness. 

One sign of mental illness that I personally never recognized was changing your regular eating habits. 

Finally, a trigger is something that might keep someone from talking about their previous struggles. 

Triggers are words or images that remind you of a traumatic time in your life or cause you to have breakdowns. 

This is a serious matter with an easy solution. When posting about something that could possibly be triggering, put “TW!” or a very noticeable trigger warning and what the topic is so that viewers know to avoid the post if they’re sensitive to the topic. 

Another rebuttal people could have to normalization is teasing. Some may be afraid that if they come out and talk about something, others may not look at them the same. 

This is a valid concern, but if someone is reaching out and making others feel more welcome on social media and someone else is making fun of that, who’s really in the wrong there?

All of these help let people who are struggling see that they don’t have to be quiet about it; they’re not alone in any way, and that not all people on social media are bad. 

 Also, for people who decide to pick on others for being open about things that they can’t control, it’s probably time for them to reevaluate themselves and see if they’re mature enough for the internet.