In case you missed it, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To honor the cause, Instagram launched their #HereForYou campaign today in an attempt to break down the stigma that surrounds discussing mental health issues and to let others know that they're not alone. (Related: Facebook and Twitter Are Rolling Out New Features to Protect Your Mental Health.)
"People come to Instagram to tell their stories in a visual—and through an image, they're able to communicate how they're feeling, what they're doing," Instagram's Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine recently told ABC News. "So what we decided to do is to create a video campaign highlighting these communities of support that exist in Instagram."
The campaign includes a documentary-style video that features three different Instagram community members who've all dealt with different mental health issues—from depression to eating disorders. The first person highlighted is 18-year-old Sacha Justine Cuddy from Britain who's using the platform to document and share her personal story as she recovers from anorexia.
For my whole life, I've felt like the victim. It crushed my self esteem and it crushed my own perception of myself. Ever since I turned 13, I was a D cup in bra size. I was known as "the girl with the nice boobs" and it made me feel so small and insignificant. I received unwanted attention from aged 12 to 15. I never knew whether it was just men being disgusting or that I just looked too old to be a minor. I had the body of a grown woman and I hated it. I hated that some people only spoke to me so I'd sleep with them and when I said no, I never saw them again and if I did our eye contact felt almost painful. Guy after guy I refused to sleep with, I kept getting my heart broken. They wondered why I never took my bra off, why I always covered my stomach sat down, why I wouldn't have sex with them. I was a child trapped in an older persons body and it felt as if I missed the stage of my life where I was tiny and delicate. I wasn't ready for sex, or letting my vulnerabilities out in the open around a guy I didn't know how to love. I felt stuck. I was stuck being a target in the streets and being bait at parties. I so badly wanted to be a child, I dieted to lose weight around my chest and thighs. At aged 17, I was told I was going to die. I developed severe and enduring Anorexia. My muscles so hungry they fed off themselves, my body so cold I grew a soft fur all over my skin. All the men forgot about me, all connections with past boyfriends lost. All connections with everyone, lost. I lost everything so men would stop being pigs. I lost everything because I was in the "wrong body" but not for one second did I think, no, they're in their wrong mind. Did I ever think that maybe it isn't my fault I hated my body? That it was simply the constant sexualisation of a girl who just wanted to be a girl. I'm not letting anyone make me feel like an object, a toy. You crushed my soul but it's flowing through my veins again. My boobs are my boobs. My stomach is my stomach. My body is MY body. I am not your victim, I am my own survivor. #anorexiarecovery #stopsexualizingmybody
Next up, is Luke Amber, who founded Andy's Man Club after his brother-in-law, Andy committed suicide. His group focuses on removing the stigma for men to talk about mental health and aims to half the rate of male suicide by 2021.
And finally, there's Elyse Fox, who founded the Sad Girls Club after fighting her own battle with depression. The Brooklyn-based organization inspires millennials to have more conversations about mental health and urges them to share their mental health journeys to get the resources they need.
What a Monday morning treat Thank you so much @instagram for spotlighting my newest initiative @sadgirlsclubpbg as part of the #HereForYou campaign. As someone who has personally struggled through abusive relationships depression and more, I'm extremely passionate about encouraging openness and igniting the conversation of mental health to millennials & generation Z. Also check out Instagrams story as I takeover and share tips on how you can show someone you're there for them
Even if you don't personally have a mental illness, there's a high chance you know someone who does. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults will experience mental illness in any given year. To put that into perspective, that's 43.8 million people or about 18.5 percent of the total U.S. population. But despite the shocking numbers, people are still hesitant to talk about these issues, which prevents them from getting the treatment they may need.
Even though we've got a long way to go before everyone feels comfortable talking about mental health, starting campaigns like #HereForYou is a giant step in the right direction.
Watch Sacha, Luke and Elyse share why they want to be mental health advocates in the video below.