You may have noticed from the abundance of adverts on social media, mental health apps are a rapidly growing industry. We’re also witnessing increasing numbers of celebrities and influencers talking out about mental health on their social media platforms and promoting certain apps. While some may argue celebrity endorsements can be self-serving, when it comes to mental health awareness, they can play an essential role in improving mental health outcomes.
A boom in mental wellness apps
There’s a proliferation of apps to boost mental wellness and more are on the way.
From simple offline mindfulness apps, online communication tools to AI chatbots that can check in on you for free if you’re struggling with your mental health.
However, all eyes are currently on the industry giants that are offering genuine over-the-phone therapy. But that’s for another article.
Apps are here to stay
It’s important to note that while apps can be amazing support tools, they are not necessarily a silver bullet for all mental health conditions. For instance, psychiatry is a critical component to mental health support. The the Journal of Clinical Psychology Reports that people are bringing their apps, sleep-tracking devices and activity-monitoring devices to psychiatrists to ask for a professional opinion on their use, in the same way that many patients bring Internet resources and Google searches to physicians for second opinions.
Those in opposition to apps believe that the use of this new technology creates consumer uncertainty and confusion. There are more than 165,000 mobile applications available for health care, with the largest category for people with mental health disorders. These apps are managing everything from addiction to depression and schizophrenia. Challengers state that there is no required industry regulation or research and a plethora of opinions and reviews on app effectiveness, which results in confusion as to which apps are effective and should be utilized.
A therapeutic approach
Despite the scale so far, virtual therapy is still a relatively new trend. There are also websites such as bestonlinetherapy.com to help explain these differences. This platform compares and analyzes online therapy options to help people find the best online therapy site. This includes how to decide which is the best online therapy for you (tip: the one that keeps you safe and anonymous if you wish to, is scientifically sound, while getting an excellent service, at a reasonable good price).
Celebrity Support For Mental Health
Apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp have been able to gain in popularity because they have made therapy more mainstream. Breaking down social barriers and appear regularly on most of our social feeds and in TV adverts.
A lot of this success is due to influencers and celebrities endorsing mental health solutions. A-list celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Michael Phelps, and Ariana Grande have partnered with Talkspace,. Raising awareness and offering discounted prices when signing up.
Speaking up about their own mental health challenges
By all accounts it seems to help when celebrities share their own struggles openly. Sharing in a real and honest way makes it easier for millions of people to reach out for help too. Take for example Prince Harry speaking out on his own mental health challenges and what he’s done to address them. Many were surprised to hear about his struggles and could relate his challenges with their own.
Of course, celebrities do not always get it right, but the fact there are public discussions, even about difficult subjects raises awareness.
It’s not all plain sailing though. When celebrities are perceived to be taking advantage of a tragedy or trauma, social media is holding them to account. The public and media catch on quickly if celebrities and brands step over the mark. Take for instance Travis Scott’s PR stint following the aftermath of his devastating Astroworld performance that took the lives of 10 festival-goers. A BetterHelp partnership was signed, offering a free month of therapy to the witnesses and victims.
A public backlash
His initiative received backlash for a few reasons. Much of the focus was on the idea that one month of therapy is not going to fix the scale of the mass trauma. It also highlighted an unease that celebrities could use mental health as a way to boost their own PR and potentially even profit from a tragedy he was accused of creating.
Clearly, it’s difficult to know the intentions behind why a celebrity promotes an online therapy service. It can be argued that it does not matter – like the person that donates large amounts to a charity for their own ego or recognition. It’s still doing more good than harm.
The bottom line
Influencer marketing is here to stay. Whilst users are becoming more competent at critical thinking when it comes to deciphering hidden adverts and phoney products, influencers still influence. Paying celebrities is a very direct way to gain the trust of a large audience, who trust the celebrity, and the results of the marketing investment are measurable, unlike a generic TV advert.
We will likely continue to see more partnerships with celebrities and mental health services. They will also continue to be put under the microscope just as much as they encourage people to seek help. And, whilst celebrities can sometimes lose touch with much of reality as they grow their fortunes and fame, the one area in which they will always be relatable is in sharing the same mental health challenges.
Main photo credit: Demi Levato Facebook