Spreading the Message
Social media trends come and go, but many of them make a lasting impact.
Push up challenges. Sharing the color of your bra. Posting a status asking people to copy and paste. The Ice Bucket Challenge. All of these have their time, often with individual or viral successes, each demonstrating the power of solidarity shared even by friends and strangers thousands of miles away from each other. All are equally important ways to use visuals to spread important messages.
Lately, you may have seen a new movement on social media, though its meaning may be more implicit or less obvious than others. In fact, you may have even seen it and scrolled right by. But the next time you see someone holding up four fingers, know that it’s for a much bigger purpose; tons of celebrities and regular people alike are getting on board to show their support.
Mental Health Awareness Month
With so many important causes and movements in the world today, it seems like many days, weeks, and months are dedicated to specific campaigns. Since 1949, May has been Mental Health Awareness Month (or Mental Health Month), first started in the United States but now adapted across the world. Primarily organized by Mental Health America, each year sees a new theme meant to address specific aspects of mental illness, all meant to ultimately break down the stigma and encourage people to identify the warning signs and symptoms in order to get help and live happy, healthy lives.
Across the pond in Great Britain, Mental Health Awareness Month is getting some huge promotion this year thanks to the BBC3’s #1in4 campaign, a viral movement that addresses a very important statistic:
According to a recent English health survey, one in four adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life. In the survey of some 5,000 adults, 26% responded saying they had a diagnosis, with depression being the most common one. In 2007, the rate of adults living with a mental illness was just 23%.
As part of the campaign, numerous celebrities (and others, of course) have been taking selfies holding up four fingers to bring more awareness to the cause. Sadly, such awareness (and even proper diagnoses and treatment) are hindered by the prevailing stigma that exists around mental illness.
But why should people be ashamed to seek help when so many of us are affected? Here are the surprising and important results of the study. Keep reading.
Aside from the fact that depression was the most common diagnosis among participants, the survey had other important findings that the campaign is now trying to raise awareness for.
Firstly, women were more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression. Twenty-four percent of women reported having had depression (including post-natal) as opposed to 13% of men. Women were also more likely to self-harm and attempt suicide.
Unfortunately, the study also found that people are still prejudiced against those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Men were more likely than women to hold such a prejudice, and people who personally knew someone affected by mental illness were more likely to be accepting.