This article originally appeared on VICE US.
“Remember that anxiety is created by you,” YouTuber Jake Paul tweeted on Monday. “Sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy & that the answers will come [sic]... chill your mind out… go for a walk… talk to a friend.” It’s the kind of generic, slapdash advice that gets delivered to people with mental health issues with some regularity and it’s probably something we’ll hear again soon, likely from another pseudo-celebrity like Paul with a large internet following and a conspicuous lack of experience studying or working in mental health care.
While mental health is a complex concept, we know diagnosis and management of issues often involves input from mental health professionals like psychiatrists and licensed therapists and medication alongside personal responsibility. Our mental health is also impacted by factors beyond our control, like workplace conditions, relationships, seasonal changes, natural disasters, current events… The list goes on and on!
The idea that mental illness is a problem people could solve through the power of positive thinking or “going for a walk outside” incorrectly places fault on the individual, and pushes the myth that, with the right amount of self-care and sunny self-talk, pristine mental health is attainable for all of us. Research has shown, however, that positivity isn’t even a critical part of the equation when it comes to being mentally healthy and a 2016 study found that the expression of negative emotions was actually associated with psychological health and adjustment. Basically, ~posi vibes~ are far from the one-size-fits-all solution to mental illness that uninformed influencers may claim they are.
Paul has since deleted his tweet, which was pretty roundly mocked online, and replaced it with a link to a Healthline article about coping with anxiety. “Everyone clowning my tweet but it’s now spreading more awareness about anxiety which i didn’t even know was a thing till I was 18 but had it my whole life & never knew how to deal with it,” Paul wrote in his follow-up post. It’s unclear if anyone necessarily learned what anxiety was from Paul’s commentary, but maybe that’s beside the point.
More importantly, he attached an outside resource to fans looking to learn more, which could hopefully encourage them to look for mental health advice far, far away from his Twitter feed. After all, the erstwhile Vine star/rapper and currentYouTube league boxer/human bucket hat is obviously not a reliable resource for mental health information. But neither is any celebrity, which is why consulting a mental health practitioner, like the article Paul posted suggests, is always a better option.
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