In the safe corner of the internet, Stacy Li, also known as @internetstacy, discusses mental health and wellness-related topics on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram. Li is also a proud alumna who graduated from San Dieguito Academy in 2015 and UCLA in 2019. She is also a self-taught designer and works as a product designer at Hulu.
In the following interview, Li discusses her content creation and mental health journey. The interview has been edited and condensed for length.
How did you get into mental health advocacy? What was that journey like?
I struggled a lot with my mental health back in high school, and my mental health challenges continued throughout college. I didn’t have the resources, guidance, or knowledge to manage my own mental health. I never saw Asian or Asian Americans ever talk about mental health because there’s a cultural and generational element. It’s naturally ingrained not to talk about our feelings.
In college, I really started exploring and learning a lot through therapy, and I was learning a lot about self-improvement, personal growth, and spirituality.
I discovered TikTok after graduating college. I was like, okay, this is where I can talk about things I am really passionate about and have a creative outlet outside of work, and this accumulation molded into social media platforms where I talk about wellness.
It’s awesome how you are using social media for social good. What made you want to become a content creator? Were you expecting to go viral?
It was really accidental. I started for my own sanity and created what I wanted. TikTok is where I express myself, my thoughts and posted it, and eventually, it just took off from there. I had some things go viral, and then like, I don’t know, people wanted to follow this random girl on the internet.
I create infographics and designs around emotions and wellness topics. One time I was talking about my mental health and the pandemic, and I had some content go viral. I’m someone who likes to create things and share what I’m interested in, and there was never really any intention to be a content creator, but it just happened that way.
Favorite posts and content you have designed/created so far?
I actually put some of my favorite content on my YouTube channel, and I really like how I have this creative control to make a much longer video. I really enjoy working on this process of editing and putting together a larger project as opposed to making like 15-30 second TikToks or infographics from time to time. I have so much fun talking to the camera and everything in between.
Speaking of your UX design experience, how do you combine design and mental health to create the creative work that you do?
UX design and mental health are closely related because I feel like it’s really important for a UX designer to have a strong sense of psychology like human behavior because we are always thinking about ways to design the best possible way for people. You have to understand how people operate and think. They are important realms of being a mental health advocate and also doing UX design, and they translate really well.
What do you hope to convey through your creative work and social media platform about mental health and other topics in general?
My ultimate goal is to provide something of value, whether that’s a different perspective or some newfound knowledge, or just like a feeling that you are not alone in your struggles. That there’s another person on the internet who understands you.
What is it like seeing your content — your vulnerability, your tips — resonate with others?
It’s really meaningful to me when I get direct messages or people commenting, “Hey, this really helps me feel less isolated” or “This made my day.” It’s these moments that I feel like I am making an emotional, meaningful impact on someone. It is really cool because you reach so many people you would have never met in real life. Ever. Now, you can kind of get that connection to someone else through the screen.
Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to use social media platforms for advocacy or wellness content?
It’s super important to distinguish yourself as an advocate and someone open to talking about their experiences, as opposed to someone who gives specific advice. I always try to clarify that I’m no professional and that everything I speak about is specific to my own experiences or self-studying.
Be sure to have resources on hand for when people inevitably reach out with questions or concerns about their own mental health, like professional counseling or healing resources, important hotlines, information on how to get additional help.
Outside of those disclaimers, I love just trying to keep things as fun & light as possible. Wellness can be such a serious topic sometimes, so I try to remind myself that this is just social media and that there’s no need to be so rigid with ourselves.
If you could say anything to the people watching or liking your content, what would you say?
I’d just say that I’m truly humbled. I really am just some random girl online, and it’s crazy to me that other strangers on the internet enjoy or find value in the things I’m making. Thank you to everyone who’s been supporting my journey as a creative, and I hope to continue making things that can serve you.
You can find Stacy Li @internetstacy on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.