In praise of BuzzFeed’s Mental Health Week
Philip Ellison 11 December, 2015 at 01:12
BuzzFeed has evolved from its origins as a clickbait factory to become one of the most influential media platforms of the decade, and its editorial team is embracing the responsibility that comes with having such extensive reach. All this week, BuzzFeed writers from around the world have been contributing pieces on the subject of mental health in an effort to further de-stigmatise what is still, in 2015, a taboo subject.
“We’re launching Mental Health Week at BuzzFeed today because media can play a huge role — for good or for ill — in how people see themselves and understand their mental illnesses,” wrote Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith on Monday. “We see it around the globe: a shift from seeing depression, anxiety, and other disorders as shameful personality flaws, and toward understanding them as the illnesses they are.”
Content has ranged from the usual highly shareable listicles, such as ’13 Moments That Are Way Too Real When You Have Depression‘, to reports (‘Here’s What It’s Like To Go Through Gay Conversion Therapy In Australia’) and deeply personal essays (‘My Childhood Sexual Assault, My PTSD, My Journey Back To Happiness’).
In typical BuzzFeed style, the Mental Health Week articles encompass a diverse array of voices and experiences, and discuss sensitive issues with warmth and humour. The benefit is double-pronged. Firstly, individuals struggling with mental illness will feel less alone. And secondly, it’s good for everyone to be exposed to these kinds of stories. You don’t have to be depressed or Asian to find ‘What It’s Like Explaining Depression To Your Asian Parents‘ entertaining, but you may finish reading it with a greater understanding of what others go through.
In fact, a decent chunk of the content is geared towards people who aren’t living with mental illness, but know someone who is. Articles such as ’21 Things To Say To Someone With Depression’ and ’31 Books That Will Help You Better Understand Mental Illness’ are a great primer for anybody who wants to help a friend or relative, but has no idea where to begin.
And who couldn’t use a Random Compliment Generator in their life? Bravo, BuzzFeed.