While mental health Instagrams and TikToks won’t take the place of an in-person counsellor, they offer the global community tools to self-help, access to free support, mindful reminders, and help create awareness for anyone looking to develop personally.
“Social media is not therapy nor can it replace therapeutic services,” says Micheline Maalouf, founder of Serenin Counselling. “Social media can serve as an educational platform to bring awareness and normalise the struggles of being human. I believe therapy is for everyone but especially so when an individual’s only place for support is social media, or if their functioning of life has been impacted such as not able to go to school or work.”
Maalouf says its time to seek professional help if you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, self-harm or if you find yourself “constantly seeking help through social media” to find comfort in these posts.
Here are our top mental health Instagram accounts to follow, in curation with Mathew Baker, co-founder of The Depression Project.
This Black-owned digital platform celebrates inclusivity, self-love, and offers a platform celebrating Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC), and marginalised voices.
“For years, harmful stigmas about mental health has plagued BIPOC communities. For instance, the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health has reported that Black adults in the U.S. are less likely than white adults to report symptoms of mental illness,” Willie Greene, founder of We the Urban tells Vogue Singapore.
“Black adults living below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living above it. There are literally entire communities whose mental health statuses are affected daily by a multitude of things, including the constant onslaught of racism and news of injustice. There are BIPOC needlessly suffering with common illnesses like depression, bipolar, schizophrenia without even knowing it,” says Greene.
“This is why mental health education, acceptance, and treatment for BIPOC is so important. When someone is able to realise that they aren’t just lazy and actually have a chemical imbalance that they have no control over, that is the first step to life-changing treatment and progress.
Greene shares, “To me, self-love means being intentional about taking care of yourself. It means being able to tap in to spiritual solitude and feel genuinely content being with yourself. It is the realisation that by returning to yourself, you set yourself free, every time. And there is no better feeling.”
For self-help tools, Nawal Mustafa is a millennial neuropsychologist whose account tackles everything from self-esteem issues to dealing with self-sabotage.
“Our self-confidence heavily impacts the way we interact with others, the choices we make, and the way we see our world,” says brain coach, Nawal Mustafa. “When we are self-confident, we are better able to trust ourselves, face our fears of rejection and failure, and can recognise that we have value, regardless of how others perceive us.
“Most importantly, self-confidence is a resiliency factor that can minimise feelings of anxiety and depression, allowing us to practice self-compassion and explore our full potential.”
Artist Matilda uses Instagram as a platform for her mental health activism.
A Singapore-based group therapy programme founded by Faz Abdul Gaffa-Marsh, My Safe Sphere is about providing low-cost therapy options in sessions that deal with anticipatory grief. “How can you be grieving over someone that is still alive?” asks Gaffa-Marsh. “Or even a mental load—for new mums who balance being a hormonal changes, to caring for a human being, on top of all the things she’s (usually unknowingly) taken care of in the household. Naming our emotions—what psychologists call labelling—is an important first step in dealing with these emotions effectively.
“When my father passed away and I was dealing with grief, I started writing about it on my personal social media and I was often flooded with messages from strangers who have never have dealt with the grief they experienced with the loss of their own loved ones. Talking to these strangers made me realise that very often, therapy is such a foreign concept in Singapore. It is lightly talked about—but people still think that only if you’re clinically depressed, or suicidal that you need to see a mental health professional when that’s not really the case,” she tells Vogue Singapore.
“Beyond just in Singapore, we’ve always been trained to believe that strong emotions should be suppressed. Kids are told not to cry, stop acting the way they’re feeling. In many ways. we have, sometimes unspoken societal and organisational rules against expressing those emotions Or, we’ve never learned a language to accurately describe our emotions.”
“There is a high cost to avoiding your feelings,” says Gaffa. “When your mind is under heavy stress, your entire body gets into a fight-or-flight response. When my father just passed away, I dealt with eczema, hair loss, gut issues and of course, emotional eating didn’t help too. It’s been shown that when people don’t acknowledge and address their emotions, they display lower wellbeing and more physical symptoms of stress, something as minor like headaches can be your body’s response to avoiding your emotions.”
“Instagram is a place where many can go privately and seek the information they need to “self-help”. I have had many people tell me that my Instagram posts were the reason they decided to seek help in the first place which is extremely rewarding for me as a therapists who is advocating for mental health care,” says Micheline Maalouf, licensed mental health counsellor who focuses on anxiety and helps clients in her private practice to unpack complex trauma.
“Mental health issues continue to be stigmatised around the world. Many people don’t have access to mental health care or aren’t allowed to seek help. By making mental health posts on Instagram, it allows individuals to know they are not alone, that help is available, and it provides simple resources such as breathing tools or psychoeducational material that they would not have access to otherwise.
“Talking about mental health is the first step because it brings awareness to these very important issues. Many people don’t truly understand what they are going through or what they are experiencing. Talking about it helps shed some light on these issues, helps normalise the struggle, and teaches people how and where to reach out for help. The things we don’t talk about become taboo, the things we talk about often become the norm,” says Maalouf.
Dean Stott founder of DLC Anxiety wanted to create a worldwide virtual community “where people from all four corners of the globe can come together and support each other on their journeys to recovery, sharing what tips and techniques work for them on their own personal journey. With over 680 thousand followers it is a community where nobody feels alone, they feel supported and encouraged that they too can overcome anxiety disorder.” Scott, who also struggled with panic disorder following the passing of his late father, then went on to overcome the disorder, proving that “if a regular person like me can do it then so can anyone.”
“Mental health is just as important as physical health,” Stott shares with Vogue Singapore. “We wouldn’t put off going to the doctors and seeking help if we had broke our leg. The same goes for mental health. We need to carry on raising awareness and making people aware it’s important to seek out help if they feel their mental health is declining.”
You are not alone. Get immediate support from your GP or call the Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) if you are experiencing poor mental health, SOS provides confidential emotional support to individuals facing a crisis, thinking about suicide or are affected by suicide: Its hotline SOS 24/7 hotline: 1800 221 4444., operates 24/7.
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