Charter Oak High School

Romanticizing mental illness

Picture this- you are scrolling through loading pictures on social media. You come across an adolescent posting gruesome images of their recent self-harm wounds with a caption referencing suicide. What do you think? What are you supposed to think?

Throughout accounts on various social media outlets, many adolescents, mostly teenage girls, glorify the horrors of mental illness. Teenage girls are posting graphic pictures referring to different types of mental illnesses. They glorify various serious conditions affecting 450 million people worldwide each year.

Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter are huge media outlets containing the majority of these posts and are huge culprits to this social media crime. No, not literally a crime, but a crime against the terms of service. These users are taking real life mental health struggles and praising them. These handles are portraying these diseases for what they are NOT.

Tumblr’s terms of service says, “Promotion or Glorification of Self-Harm. Don’t post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages others to: cut or injure themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seeking counseling or treatment, or joining together in supportive conversation with those suffering or recovering from depression or other conditions.

Dialogue about these behaviors is incredibly important and online communities can be extraordinarily helpful to people struggling with these difficult conditions. We aim for Tumblr to be a place that facilitates awareness, support and recovery, and we will remove only those posts or blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification of self-harm.” So tell me Tumblr, why are there still graphic images throughout your site?

What does romanticized mental illness look like? An array of distorted images is captivating in the eyes of our community and became a quick trend. Mental illness appears to be a new aesthetic for these teens. Depression has been redefined as a sad poem, with a black and white filter and a crying teenage girl on the bathroom floor.

I do understand some individuals do express their emotions through different forms of art whether it be paintings to poems; however, there is a fine line between having a creative outlet and expressing one’s feelings rather than praising one’s emotional state.

For example, society portrays anorexia as a young skinny girl who does not want to eat. When in reality, anorexia is skin to bones and hair all over from the lack of fat. There is not a specific image for anorexia, and many people tend to forget that. There are two sides to every story. Many choose to tell the twisted version, a partial truth.

What these users can do rather than glorifying illnesses is provide outlets to receive help. Along with this, they can provide trigger warnings  in the caption pictures that may be sensitive to some spectators.

Having knowledge and accurate details of what the illness truly is shows that these illnesses are not glamorous, romantic, cool and definitely not something you want.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours everyday.