Depression as Marketing – Influencers and Mental Health

Influencers and celebrities talking about mental health online is important, but they can be problematic when used as a marketing tool.

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Open conversations about mental health are as important as ever – and social media influencers can play a vital role in starting them.

However, sometimes the line between raising awareness and marketing can be blurred.

“When you’re depressed, everything can often seem black and white. Meanwhile, color is great…but how can you add color to your miserable thoughts?” German influencer Kathy Hummels captioned now-deleted pictures on Instagram of herself wearing the glittery sunglasses.

“One factor that can help is light. Sun. Let’s shine. ‘Sun ‘n’ Soul Retreat’ by @eventsbych,” Hummels said in a post shared earlier this month.

Posts by CH linked to Hummels’ other accounts called Events – where the “Sun ‘n’ Soul Retreat” was promoted with a video showing a group of influencers doing sunrise yoga, poolside pilates and painting on a Greek beach Was shown doing. Posting a luxury villa and entire advertising material.

Pre-travel content, posts with quotes like “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows follow you,” interspersed with others highlighting advertising partners.

These included a range of gold clothing, beauty and hair, tea and jewelery brands as well as bookshops, which were often tagged in content posted during travel.

Their logo was also featured as the background of a video in which, one by one, the journeymen stood in front of the camera, hugging themselves, pretending to drink from a bottle or covering their heads with their hands. They were making gestures like covering. Related writing appears based on the person and gesture in the video.

“I was suffering from anxiety,” “I was suffering from alcohol addiction,” “I was suffering from mental health,” were a few examples. Finally, everyone is shooting together. “STOP IT! LOVE YOURSELF,” the text reads.

Outrage from followers and mental health organizations

The trip sparked an outcry among Instagram users and beyond. The German mental health charity Deutsche Depressionliga, which is run for people with depression, released a statement titled “Depression is not a marketing tool” in response.

“It becomes difficult when the presence of certain social media accounts and bloggers gives the impression that depression is only a short-term phenomenon and can be magically banished through the rays of the sun,” the charity said.

“It becomes very difficult when it is clearly used as an advertising tool to promote [own] products. In that case, so-called ‘influencers’ walk a fine and dangerous line.”

Hummel’s management did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. She apologized via Instagram on 13 November.

Hummels said she experienced depression as a teenager and was trying to raise awareness and show that mental health issues can affect anyone, including celebrities.

“Looking back, it’s clear to me that I didn’t always get it in my communications. It hurt if people, especially those with depression or other mental illnesses, didn’t feel like I took them seriously or If so, I am sorry and I apologise,” she wrote.

Content from the retreat, including a video clip of Hummels sitting on a rock in an evening gown that included “#strongmindstrongbody” and “#strongbodystrongmind” in the caption, is still visible on her Instagram account.

‘duty of care’

Simon Gunning, CEO of the British mental health charity Campaign Against Living Miserably, said acting responsibly is the most important thing when it comes to online conversations about mental health.

“The Internet is littered with pseudoscience, and there is a class of people whose livelihoods depend on an unforgivable set of metrics — followers and likes, engagement and reach — we should all be bound by a duty of care,” CNBC’s Gunning said. Told Make It.

The World Health Organization, citing data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, estimated last year that about 280 million people worldwide have depression.

The United Nations health agency states that depression is characterized by normal mood fluctuations and short-term emotional reactions to challenges in everyday life. In fact, it can develop into a serious health condition, “especially when recurring and with moderate or severe intensity,” and people can suffer greatly as a result.

The WHO says that, in the worst case, depression can lead to suicide. It is believed that more than 700,000 people die by suicide each year, with suicide being the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.

productive conversations about mental health

Gunning said that talking openly about topics like mental health is a paramount issue.

“Celebrities and influencers have an important role to play in raising awareness and starting conversations about mental health and suicide,” she added.

This sentiment is echoed by the Deutsche Depressionliga, whose statement points out that these conversations often help raise awareness.

When raising these issues online, the charity said there are a few things to keep in mind.

“Don’t portray this deadly disease as casual and easy or a temporary mood! Please choose your words carefully!” Deutsche Depressionliga said. It says people should always sign up on ways to get help for people with depression and explain that the illness often requires therapy.

According to Dr David Krepaz-Kay of the UK-based Mental Health Foundation, it is also important to ensure that the content is evidence-based.

“As someone who is starting or introducing those conversations, it is really helpful to focus on things that are evidence-based, to share context and additional resources with people from trusted sources,” he told CNBC’s Make It.

This could include research from medical professionals or official health organizations, he says.

As a consumer, it’s equally important to make sure the information you see online is from a reliable source, explains Krepaz-Key.

“Take these things seriously and slowly and especially before you act on anything that looks like clinical advice, check it with more than one source,” he said, meaning that It is important to connect the investigation with people you trust.

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