Post your pill: breaking the stigma around medication for mental health
Dr Alex George, the UK’s Ambassador for Mental Health, presenter and author (you might know him from Love Island 2017) posted a picture of the medication he takes to help him manage his mental health on Instagram. And what a brilliant use of a platform with 2 million of us following him
He’s been on a mission to tackle the stigma around mental health that, despite great efforts from many, sadly does still exist. As part of his efforts, he posted a photo of the medication he takes to help him manage his mental health and asked others to do the same to show just how common it is and to normalise the use of medication in treatment for mental health challenges. And it took off.
Loads and loads of us joined, tagging him and using the hashtag #postyourpill. And that is truly great; raising awareness, breaking stigma, normalising common issues among us. But this may also be damaging for some viewers.
Topics like mental health are very triggering, for many of us and for many reasons. And while we absolutely want everyone to feel valid in their experiences, how they manage, and be able to speak out about these, we do need an air of caution around it. Simply posting photos of pills may be triggering for some bringing back challenging feelings or behaviours (some may just disagree entirely - each to their own), it could quite easily be misinterpreted or misunderstood by some - especially younger people.
When we’re working towards breaking stigmas and normalising mental health, we need to be aware of not ‘glamourising’ issues, or confusing the message. At times, talking about our mental health online can be misinterpreted. Someone may see something like this and think their experiences aren’t valid because they don’t have medication. Or that they need medication to be validated because others have. Or that medication should work for everyone, when it in fact does not. That is not the message behind the hashtag, but there is room for misinterpretation.
Whether you or someone you know struggles with their mental health, whether medication, talking therapy, support groups - or any other form of treatment or support - is used to help us manage our mental health, we support you and your journey. Be conscious of the information you take in online. Seek professional support if you’re struggling. Be sure to get the full low-down on what’s available for you, and take some time to work out what works for you. If medication doesn’t, that’s ok your experiences are still valid. If medication does, that’s ok your experiences are still valid. Maybe this has changed your opinion on medication?
Marvellous medicines: Dr Alex George’s efforts to tackle stigma around mental health and his work towards helping young people with their experiences are brilliant and a giant step in the right direction. As a society we need to work together to understand and normalise mental health, so do join him just be conscious in your efforts.