Tag: Mental Health

Why Small Business Owners Need Support Systems, With Examples From 6 Small Business Owners

Why Small Business Owners Need Support Systems, With Examples From 6 Small Business Owners

Starting and running your own business can be incredibly stressful. One survey of small business owners from Capital One found that 42 percent of them are currently experiencing burnout or have experienced it within the past month. This is why having a good support system is invaluable for entrepreneurs. Having a space to share the ups and downs of small business ownership and having people around you who understand your challenges can help make you more resilient and able to weather the storm that is small business ownership.

We spoke to several incredible small business owners who are juggling multiple growth challenges, growing families, and all the while being focused on ensuring they get the support they need to be the best version of themselves and take their businesses forward.

Holly Howard, a longtime business consultant says it best “I always say there's no business growth without personal growth.” She goes on to say, “it's about how we show up and how we take care of ourselves.” And the data supports it; in the same Capital One report, they found that more than half (53 percent) of business owners report that when they experience burnout, it is a barrier to success for their business.

In Small Business, Big Lessons, season two, episode six, we detail how the owners of Harlow, SparkToro, Made With Local, Zingerman’s, Destination Unknown Restaurants and Paynter Jackets approach getting support as small business owners.

Set healthy boundaries and intentional work policies

The first place many small business owners mention when talking about support is getting support through setting healthy boundaries. Those can be in the form of setting healthy boundaries for themselves, as well as supporting those boundaries through intentional work policies that protect their team from burnout as well.

Kelly Phillips, the founder of Destination Unknown Restaurants, a group of restaurants based in Washington, DC, knows that boundaries often start with her as the leader. “I am very respectful about time off and not texting, not calling, not emailing when I know people are off when they're on vacation.” She leads by example when she’s not working, “I try not to let myself get caught up into work when I'm off. I know that I'm a better leader if I have time to rest.”

Kelly is also focused on the environment that she cultivates at her restaurants. “I try to have a stress-free environment. Yes, it does get stressful. Yes, it does get busy, but I'm a big fan of lightening the mood by making a joke or, you know, giving somebody a high five or just saying something that's gonna perk them up a little bit and make them feel good about themselves.” This environment makes a difference when her team is more supportive of each other through the highs and lows, “We know it won't always be hard, you know, we're gonna get through this. We have to close the doors eventually, and tomorrow will be a new day.”

Intentional work policies can make a huge difference when it comes to burnout and cultivating a supportive network. Andrea Wildt and Samantha Anderl, co-founders of Harlow, a software designed to help freelancers with their business, know this first hand. They quit their nine-to-five jobs because those jobs didn’t work for them, so they built their business in a way that supported them and future employees. “So we have this saying actually at Harlow, that we believe that we are all better and more creative when we're living well-balanced lives.” Samantha shared about their approach.

They put into place policies to have limited meetings and a work culture that takes away the feeling that everything is urgent. The result? Both co-founders say they’re showing up as better versions of themselves. “Our brains don't function in this ‘on state’ for eight, nine hours a day. We need downtime, we need breaks. And I think that. A lot of corporate environments just aren't conducive to that at all. And so Samantha and I really wanted to build something different where we could foster more creativity.”

Read more about how Kelly Phillip’s approaches business in her post about putting employees first, not customers.

Build up a community of other founders and of your customers

Another way to get support is to build up a community around yourself — both of other founders who understand what you’re going through and are facing similar challenges, and also to look to your community of customers, who understand your business better than a lot of others.

Holly explains it as, “Who are those people that you can go to, that you can speak to about what you are going through?” She says that gathering can be really powerful because “everybody goes through the same challenges as an entrepreneur, and when we see our peers, and we have that camaraderie with our peers.” And this group environment is better for growth, too. “It's actually much easier to change than when we're isolated. So that support network of other people who understand what you're going through and you can lean on each other is really important.”

The co-founders of Harlow have been doing this since the beginning, proving that it’s never too early to start building a community. Samantha explained that they’ve been building up their community for the past eight years, it includes other founders and freelancers, and it has a very positive effect on them because, as it stands, Samantha said, “I don't think we ever have a problem that we need to solve, that we don't have somebody in our community that we're like, ah, we should go talk to that person.”

Community can also be found through more traditional business groups. Sheena Russel is the founder and CEO of Made with Local, a Canadian snack bar company and a certified B-corp. She’s found a lot of support through the movement. “I absolutely feel like we're part of an incredible purpose-led business community.” Sheena knows the importance of community through her own experiences, “It can be lonely out there as a founder and as an entrepreneur.” She looks not only to her community of other entrepreneurs but also to her customers. “We have an amazing community around us of other businesses, but also of our customers as our community.”

The theme with all of these business owners, as Rand Fishkin, the co-founder and CEO of SparkToro, is that he calls “an intentional investment in building a network of like-minded founders and like-minded companies.” There are a lot of ways to go about building up a support network through community, the key is just to get started.

Why Small Business Owners Need Support Systems, With Examples From 6 Small Business Owners
Several members of the Made With Local team.

Join an existing network of like-minded people through groups or social media

Sometimes there is already an existing community where you can find support. Kelly is a part of an organization called Re: Her, a national non-profit driven by women restaurateurs. The organization’s mission is to empower women entrepreneurs, specifically in the food and beverage industry. She explains, “We have regular calls where we discuss issues in the restaurant community, and we have resources for each other. And even if it's just checking in to say, Hey, how's everybody doing? Oh, you know, prices have gone up on this. Does anybody have a good vendor for that? We really help each other.”

This kind of existing organization can be a huge advantage for gaining support and making like-minded connections. These groups can be found online through tools like Meetup, Facebook Groups, and LinkedIn Groups. You can also ask around in your industry to see what organizations others already know about.

Social media is another powerful tool for finding existing communities, groups, and resources. Sheena, who runs Made with Local from a smaller city in Canada, turns to digital platforms to connect. She shared, “If you're an entrepreneur that's struggling to connect with a community or with some mentors, I would say start looking online, honestly, through social media is an incredibly algorithmically driven way to find people that are doing things just like you are. Whether it be through Instagram or LinkedIn. It's a really nice way to figure out where your people are."

Samantha from Harlow has had the same experience. “I'm very active on Twitter. I'm very active on LinkedIn on Instagram. And so I am constantly making connections there.” When it comes to joining those communities, Samantha’s advice is: “People are there, and people are having the conversations, and you just have to throw yourself into it.”

Look for professional support through therapy

Support comes in many forms, and sometimes the kind of support that you need might be professional support in the form of counseling or therapy. Holly, who in addition to being a long-time business consultant is a trained therapist, explained that with her background, “often I end up recommending that clients go to therapy. And a lot of times for entrepreneurs, it's the first time they've had an experience of therapy before.”

Ari Weinzweig, the co-founder of Zingerman's Community of Businesses, has personal experience with getting this kind of support. “I started going to therapy, and then at that point, I was ready through pain, and I wish I would've gone at 10. I mean, it's like having a coach at the gym. There's nothing weird or wrong about it. Who wouldn't want a grounded, thoughtful, caring, slightly disengaged with your day-to-day emotional struggles, person to talk to?”

Ari is definitely not alone in seeking this kind of support. Rand has had the experience of looking to therapy after a particularly difficult time. “I am a few years away from my experiences with mental and emotional challenges, depression, and anxiety. And I'm very grateful to be through those times. But it was absolutely heart-wrenching and awful going through it. When I experienced that, I ended up stepping down from my CEO role at MOZ, and eventually away from the company.” Though Rand says that “talking to a professional coach and therapist helped“ he’s also hesitant to give advice on the topic because “I don't think that what worked for me will work for everyone. In fact, what I hear over and over again from other founders and other people who've been through this kind of thing is the solutions are often different, right?”

Now, Rand is taking a different approach to his mental health. “One of the things that I've done to try and prevent that same pattern from reemerging is to prioritize personal health and happiness over work, as hard as I can.”

Why Small Business Owners Need Support Systems, With Examples From 6 Small Business Owners
Rand Fishkin alongside co-founder Casey Henry.

You can always pause as well

There are a lot of different avenues for getting support as an entrepreneur and small business owner. It’s important to remember that that support can sometimes also look like showing down.

Becky Okell and Huw Thomas, co-founders of Paynter Jacket Co, a company that creates limited-edition jackets four times a year, both have healthy perspectives on slowing down when needed. Huw shared, “When you get momentum going in your business and you sort of keep it going and the busy times become normal times one day.” He said he and Becky experienced this and realized they needed some time for themselves. Huw describes it as, “It's kind of being self-aware enough to realize, okay, you need me to pause and slow down a bit. Take a breath.”

Becky’s perspective on the busy times is that “There has to be peaks and there has to be troughs. Not everything can go at a million miles an hour and not everything is going to be perfect either.” Her approach and advice to others is, “you have to actually take time to top up your creative energy to, to make sure you're reading and getting an outside perspective.”

None of us can go it alone, and we all need support from others. Whether it’s specific knowledge, emotional support, a kind word, or just someone to listen to our rants, we rely on our communities to lift us up when we need it.

Want to hear more about getting support as a small business owner? Listen to the full episode of Small Business, Big Lessons.


How and Why to Take a Social Media Break (and what happened when I did it)

How and Why to Take a Social Media Break (and what happened when I did it)

If you’re anything like me, you might spend hours and hours on social media. And if you do, then you’re probably familiar with the TikTok infinite scroll or doomscrolling on Twitter first thing in the morning. But excessive use of social media has been linked to increased depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and other negative effects.

Of course, nothing is healthy in excess amounts – and the time we spend on social media is something we don’t often stop to think about and check. So in this article, we will share the reasons for and benefits of taking a social media break, as well as insight into what happens when a Chronically Online person (a.k.a. me) decides to take one.

Why take a social media break?

There have been multiple studies to corroborate the negative effects of social media. One 2022 cross-national survey conducted across the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Norway found that those who used social media for entertainment or to decrease loneliness during the pandemic experienced poorer mental health. And ExpressVPN, in a 2021 survey, found that 86 percent of 1,500 Americans reported negative impacts of social media on their happiness and self-image.

Social media can also become an addiction. Social media addiction is defined as “an uncontrollable urge to log on to and use social media, and devoting so much time and effort to social media that it impairs other areas of life.”

If any of this resonates, then you may need a social media break. And even if you’re not quite at the point of addiction or poor mental health yet, there may be some other signs that show you need to take a break:

  • Frequent annoyance or frustration with trending posts or topics
  • Comparing yourself to other people
  • Having trouble sleeping and checking social media first thing upon waking up
  • Experiencing or noticing an increase in anxiety or depression symptoms
  • Spending a significant amount of time on social media
  • Feeling disappointed for not receiving any engagement with a post or comment
  • Losing focus and missing deadlines or neglecting chores
  • Feeling physical distress if you can’t check your social media for a period of time

Remember, social media is designed to be addictive, so it’s not surprising that many of us find it hard to break the habit. But it might be time for a break if you find that social media impacts your mental health or productivity.

Potential benefits of taking a social media break

Stepping away from social media, even for a short time, has many benefits. Several studies have been conducted on the effects of limiting time on social media, resulting in some interesting findings:

  • This 2021 study found that limiting social media use for a week improved well-being by preventing sleep problems.
  • Another 2021 study found that most students reported a positive change in mood, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep during and immediately after a break from social media.
  • The authors of a 2020 study asked participants to abstain from social media for a week. They report a significant increase in mental well-being and social connectedness after the period of abstinence.
  • A 2018 study found that abstaining from social media use for about a week reduced stress in both typical and excessive social media users and that the effects were more pronounced in the latter group.
  • And this 2018 study found that limiting social media use to about 30 minutes daily significantly reduced feelings of loneliness and depression.

Most studies have found positive connections between social media breaks and improved mental well-being. But what do those breaks look like in practice?

What happened when I took a social media break?

Statistics and data are great, but they’re not lived experiences. So to prepare for this article, I took a week-long social media break and documented my feelings about it. I picked the length of time and method because I felt it was realistic – social media is a big part of my job as a Content Writer at Buffer, so I can’t take too much time off. I also deleted the apps I use the most from my phone for the week.

Now that we’re on the same page, here is all the data and highlights from my time off (henceforth called Break Week) and the week after.

The Parameters

  • Deleted Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, and Tumblr (yes, I still use Tumblr)
  • For 7 days, from Sunday to Saturday
  • Collected the hard data from iPhone’s ScreenTime tracking feature
  • Took notes in my Notes app

The Stats: Before and After

Total Screen Time: I actually spent more time on my phone during Break Week overall, but on apps like Chrome to read content and YouTube to watch videos. My time on Chrome dropped by nearly half the week after my Break.

Most Used Categories: During Break Week, the time I spent on Social Media overall, even considering the times I had to redownload apps to get screenshots for articles, was WAY down. Despite the seeming drop in screen time, I reverted to my old habits once the Break was over, spending a total of 24 hours, 13 minutes (!) on Social Media apps the week after.

Pickups: I picked up my phone a lot more during Break Week than the week after. This is definitely because of my instinct to go for social media apps when I open my phone. I turned to my browser when I wasn’t met with my usual distractions. The difference between the two weeks is the apps I opened after picking up – Chrome was the most used during Break Week, while Twitter was my most used the week after. A funny note is the amount of time I spent on my usual shopping app, Farfetch, during Break Week – window shopping to self-soothe is very on-brand for me.

What did I learn from the experience?

Social media is a distraction and a method of procrastination for me

I often found myself reaching for my phone when I needed something else to occupy my time. Without the apps on my phone, I found other ways to occupy my brain for those moments. My screen time didn’t really change, but I spent more time reading, watching videos, and listening to music than usual. To quote my Friday log, “I’ve consumed so much random YouTube content this week that I just know my recommendations are forever altered.”

The FOMO hit me hard – but it wasn't as bad as I expected

Social media has become the first place many of us go when we see a breaking news headline, and ultimately the primary source of information for many people – myself included. So, without the apps on my phone, I often felt like I was missing something even though I was getting my New York Times newsletters and regular updates from Google News.

My notes reflected this as I stated multiple times that I didn’t feel tuned in to what was happening outside of my bubble. Even though it wasn’t quite news (depending on who you ask), my Tuesday log has a hilarious progression:

  • 6:43 pm: Generally, FOMO isn’t as bad today – I’ve had lots of things to take my mind off social media
  • 7:06 pm: The FOMO is back! A Nigerian artist called Burna Boy dropped a new video LIVE – and I’m missing the live tweet experience

I found myself wanting to share things that didn’t really need to be shared

I’ve become used to sharing on a whim, so not being able to take a picture or film a video and upload it wherever, or type out a quick tweet or LinkedIn post, felt odd.

Of course, scheduling content in Buffer is an easy way to make important updates without needing to hop into the social media apps themselves.

One note from my Wednesday log said, “I got my parents a couple of nights at a beach resort for their anniversary, but I can’t post the pics of how cute they were taking all their pictures. Sad.” A bit dramatic, if you ask me.

However, I did find that once the cycle of wanting to share and then realizing I had deleted social media passed, I didn’t feel the urge as much. Even now, nearly a month later, I don’t update my social media as much as I used to. I may return to old habits eventually, but I’ve definitely gotten better at managing the instinct to post once I get inspiration.

Ultimately, although I had to redownload some apps for work purposes, the week and the time I took off were quite low-stakes. Nothing super interesting happened, at least not enough to warrant profound regret about my decision to take that particular week off.

All this is to say that taking a break, even if it's sporadic and once in six months, will cause you less discomfort than you think. It may even drive you to be a bit more creative with how you choose to spend your time online. And it will definitely drive you to rethink your relationship with social media and set healthier boundaries.

How to take a social media break

If you’re considering taking a break from social media, let’s discuss how to do it. Here are some tips:

Set a limit

One way to break the social media habit is to limit the amount of time you spend on it each day. Use a timer or app to track your usage, and stick to your limit. This will help you be more mindful of your time on social media and hopefully reduce the amount of time you spend on it overall.

Apple devices come with automated screen time tracking, and you can try apps like Space or Forest to help manage your usage.

Delete the apps

If setting a limit doesn’t work for you, try deleting the social media apps from your phone. This is a more extreme measure, but it can effectively break the habit. You can always redownload the apps if you feel like you absolutely need to – I often needed to get into one app or the other to grab screenshots or links. But you would be surprised how much there is to do without boredom-induced Instagram deep-dives into your university professor’s niece’s account.

Take a break from specific platforms

Another option is to take a break from the social media platforms you use most. If you find yourself spending hours on TikTok, for example, try taking a break from that app specifically. Come up with a reward system for every time you feel the urge to open the app and can resist to make it fun.

Find other things to occupy your time

When you find yourself with the urge to scroll through social media, try to find something else to do instead. Go for a walk, read a book, or call a friend. You can do plenty of things that don’t involve looking at a screen. In fact, you may find yourself picking up a new hobby – I discovered more podcasts during my time off.

Be realistic in your approach to taking time off

It’s important to be realistic when thinking about disconnecting from social media, especially if you currently spend a lot of time on it. Not everyone wants or needs to stay away from social media for extended periods of time – like everything in life, it’s essential to set boundaries.

But whether you choose to go cold turkey or take little chunks of time off, like one day a week or one week every month, you will likely see increased benefits for your mental and emotional health.

Have you ever tracked how much time you spend on social media? Let us know your stats over on Twitter @buffer! It's a judgment-free zone, promise.


#SMARTHappinessFormula by #WelshDragon #MikeArmstrong

😎Happiness, Productivity and Success…

As winter sets upon us (well in the UK anyway) it can be a period of SADness (Seasonal Affective Dissorder).

If you suffer with this then it’s time to get #SMART with your Lifestyle in order to beat S.A.D become a happier version of you, and increase your productivity!

It’s time to follow the #SMARTHappinessFormula from #WelshDragon #MikeArmstrong

Ability to Perform
Random Kindness

Sleep – get 7-8 hours a night
Meditation / Mindfulness- do 30 mins a day
Ability To Perform – Exercise Daily for at least 30 mins, eat a health well balanced nutritional diet and keep well hydrated (drink lots of water)
Do lots of Random and non random kindness each day to others
Set lots of small, medium and long term goals and achieve some of these daily!

Then you’ll be the happiest you that you can be!


Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Celebrate Mental Health Day with ‘Ajuda’ • Introbiz

MHW Online presents Talking Mental Health Conference, providing you with 2 days of information and inspiration on all things mental health!

Following the fantastic success of our online events to motivate individuals during COVID-19, the MHW Online team have created an exciting online conference taking place over the week of World Mental Health Day!

The goal of World Mental Health Day is to help raise mental health awareness. Each of us can make a contribution to ensure that people dealing with problems concerning mental health can live better lives with dignity.

Every year one adult in four, along with one child in ten, will have a mental health issue. These conditions can profoundly affect literally millions of lives, affecting the capability of these individuals to make it through the day, to sustain relationships, and to maintain work.

The stigma attached to mental health causes a damaging, albeit ill-informed, attitude, making it more difficult for those affected to pursue help. According to UK estimates, only about one-fourth of those with mental health problems undergo ongoing treatment. By stark contrast, the vast majority of those affected with these problems are faced with a variety of issues, ranging from isolation to uncertainty on where to get help or information, to relying on the informal support of family, friends or colleagues.

The best way to deal with this stigma is through facts and a better understanding of mental health problems. From identifying the causes, pinpointing solutions, and ultimately recognising that we are really dealing with medical issues. 

So what can we do to help?
Talking Mental Health is a National Conference that will be taking place to help people understand and recognise poor Mental Health and to make a difference.

We will have a range of key note speakers, talking about their own personal journeys with Mental Health Conditions, and sharing their recovery stories. 

What is happening on the day?
KeyNote Speakers

Day of Inspiration 

Free Resources

Expert Knowledge

Professional Advice

Success Stories

Supported by Ajuda Training

Please get in touch with events@ajuda.org.uk or book your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talking-mental-health-online-conference-adult-youth-mhw-online-tickets-113602953492?aff=Mailchimp

Share this

— Read on introbiz.co.uk/celebrate-mental-health-day-with-ajuda/

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

3 Ways Facebook is Supporting Mental Health

2020 has been ripe with change, uncertainty, and endless efforts to manage the uncertain outcomes of our decisions as best we can. Beyond the fear of contracting the virus are the new realities of working from home, virtual schooling, and lack of physical interaction with colleagues, family, and friends. While mask-wearing, frequent handwashing and social distancing have become the norm as a way of avoiding physical illness, ongoing worry and stress continue to exacerbate mental health challenges.

For the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – this issue is an important one, arguably as crucial as physical safety. Organizations and platforms continue to show their dedication to this growing issue in a variety of updates. Most recently, as part of this year’s WWorld Suicide Prevention Day, Facebook announced the rollout of several new mental health support updates. Specifically, the platform is introducing new parameters on self-harm related content, utilizing mobile messaging to offer expert support in real-time, and promoting digital literacy on the topic of suicide prevention.

New parameters around self-harm related content

In a recent survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than half (53%) of adults in the U.S. reported their mental health has been negatively impacted due to the coronavirus, up from 32 percent in March. Specifically, respondents reported difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increases in alcohol consumption or substance abuse (12%) and worsening chronic conditions (12%) due to increased stress and anxiety.

A separate report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted this past June, found that one in four young adults between 18 and 24 said they considered suicide in the 30 days prior to the study citing the pandemic as the leading factor. This topic involves a delicate balance by the part of platforms and poses new questions and obstacles that must be carefully considered, specifically what constitutes “harmful” and where to draw the line between what is in violation of platform guidelines or not.

Last year Instagram expanded its ban on images of self-harm and now Facebook is looking to expand upon its already-existing rules regarding self-harm related content. While some content may not technically be in violation of the rules, the platform is working closely with experts to implement restrictions on content including “depressing quotes or memes” to protect those particularly vulnerable during these times. This is a difficult line to walk however, as for some who may not feel comfortable sharing their struggles, quotes or memes may be a useful coping mechanism.

Chat as a vehicle for crisis support

The proliferation of mobile messaging offers brands and platforms a number of opportunities to connect with communities in unprecedented ways.

Recent data from eMarketer shows that in 2020 there are around 2.7 billion mobile phone messaging app users worldwide, and this number is projected to grow to 3.1 billion by 2023. For context, this equates to roughly 40 percent of the global population. During an age of social distancing, the time is now to turn to this trend as an integral way to share resources, insights, and foster connection. In this vein, as part of its recent push to support mental health Facebook is introducing a new, real-time assistance option via Messenger chat.

“Getting people help in real-time is especially important when they are in distress. In the coming months, we’ll make it easier for people to talk in real-time with trained crisis and mental health support volunteers over Messenger,” the company shared in its News blog.

With 1.3 billion people using Messenger to date and with plans officially underway to merge WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger into a single app, this could be a seamless and non-intrusive way for those seeking help to get access to the resources they need.

Wellness guides and digital literacy resources

In May Instagram announced its ‘Guides’ options for profiles, enabling users to more easily discover content including tips on how to look after your well-being, maintaining connection with others or managing anxiety or grief from their favorite creators and brands.

Building on this, Facebook is launching localized guides offering targeted ways to support those who are struggling. The company pointed to The Suicide Prevention of India’s guide, which emphasizes fostering social connectedness, Mentally Aware Nigeria’s guide catered to having safe conversations about suicide, and Samaritans HK of Hong Kong guide to simple but effective ways to check on your friends and loved ones as examples it seeks to emulate.

Beyond wellness guides, Facebook is doubling down on digital literacy by incorporating Orygen’s #chatsafe guidelines to its Safety Center — the primary aim of the move being to help educators better navigate mental health conversations with their students. In addition, Facebook unveiled its ‘Get Digital’ digital citizenship and wellbeing program featuring a microsite of courses spanning key themes of connection, empowerment, and engagement.

In tandem with the new program, Facebook will host a series of live events throughout this month September tackling a variety of key concerns in the midst of an abnormal academic year — the first of which will leverage insights from the JED Foundation to address mental health.

Mental health has been a prominent and recurring topic in recent months but one worth keeping at the front of our messaging and stories. As marketers, we play an instrumental role in helping remove the stigma and making the practice of digital empathy more mainstream. Creating shared understanding and experiences in an age of social distancing has its challenges, but there are also tremendous opportunities for how can we use the power of technology to address these issues.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

The post 3 Ways Facebook is Supporting Mental Health appeared first on Social Media Week.


Exhibitor Stand Sales Reopened for MHW 2021

Exhibitor Stand Sales Reopened for MHW 2021

Alongside our great Online Events, did you know we are also planning a big LIVE event for 2021 in Cardiff City Stadium? 

The Mental Health & Wellbeing Show will take place on 20th May 2021, after being postponed for the year due to the current pandemic. We can’t wait to bring you an amazing day full of inspiration and knowledge around a large number of mental health & wellbeing related topics. 

Learn more about the seminars here. 

As well as 30 seminars on offer, we also have a great exhibition with space for over 50 organisations to spread the word about their upcoming projects, services they provide or to raise awareness of the great work they go.

To view our current exhibitors, click here.   

— Read more on mailchi.mp/fcf6d4f13c12/exhibitor-stand-sales-reopened-for-mhw-2021

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Netflix and Instagram Join Forces to Promote Mental Health with New Weekly Live Series

How do we stay connected during social distancing? How do we manage anxiety and overwhelming thoughts introduced by these uncertain times? What does self care actually mean in the context of a global pandemic?

These are just a few of the questions that Netflix and Instagram are looking to tackle in a new partnership aimed to help their viewers address some of the concerns they may have amid the current health crisis. In a conversational, social-friendly setting, users can voice their struggles with sleeping, anxiety, and self-care, feel heard, and get answers during a time when feeling stuck is commonplace.

Wanna Talk About It?

COVID-19 has upended the lives of younger generations and adults in numerous ways from disrupting major life milestones including graduations, to presenting newfound concerns around financial stability and mental health, relationships, and job security. Navigating our new normal of social distancing and self-quarantining is an obstacle in itself, but added with a reorientation of how we routinely connect and relieve stress, many are in search of alternative sources for sharing what’s on their mind.

Starting today at 4pm PT/7 pm ET, the two are launching a weekly live series titled Wanna Talk About It? Featuring interviews with Netflix talent and mental health experts from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America, The Trevor Project, Crisis Text Line and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the episodes will aim to raise awareness and create a safe space for people seeking to address the challenges and questions streaming from these confusing and extraordinary times.

Participating in the effort are stars including Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), Joey King (The Kissing Booth), Ross Butler and Aisha Boe (13 Reasons Why), Caleb McLaughlin (Stranger Things), Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), and Jerry Harris (Cheer). The first episode will include Centineo and Dr. Ken Duckworth, Chief Medical Officer, NAMI, and discuss ways we can practice self-care to stay mentally as well as physically healthy amid the pandemic.

Fueling Empathy & Community

Sixty-five percent of Instagram‘s audience is under 34 years of age, while Netflix is ranked the most popular video channel among teen users, even etching out YouTube in a recent study conducted by Piper Sandler.

With these stats in mind, the collaboration between the streaming and social giants makes a lot of sense, especially when considering Instagram’s latest focus on taking care of its users through experiments to hide total like counts, adding prompts on potentially offensive comments, and its ‘Restrict’ feature allowing usings to control who interacts with them and how.

From Facebook’s ‘Community Help’ update to Snapchat’s early release of ‘Here For You’ to Instagram’s release of a ‘Co-Watching’ feature and tease of allowing multiple participants to join an Instagram Live, platforms are showing a growing interest in helping contribute to positive mental health. In a pivotal moment for the industry, emphasis on creating shared understanding and experiences will continue to rise in importance and wield tremendous power in how younger generations on-ramp to social media.

Wanna Talk About It? will run every Thursday until May 14 on the @Netflix Instagram account.

The post Netflix and Instagram Join Forces to Promote Mental Health with New Weekly Live Series appeared first on Social Media Week.


6 LinkedIn Courses to Boost Mindfulness and Productivity

In these extraordinary times, building your self-care toolbox is equally if not more important than boosting your skills for working remotely and maintaining productivity.

The boundaries between work life and personal life are more blurred than ever and the loss of our most basic avenues for stress relief and recharging including fitness classes, churches or other places of worship, and coffee shops present their own unique challenges to the situation we face.

Managing Mental Health and Reducing Stress

As we look to navigate this new normal, LinkedIn turned to its task force specializing in mental health to create six courses professionals can use to build mindfulness and manage stress.

At a high-level, these will offer insights into increasing your focus, helping you remain grounded amidst the change and ambiguity, manage emotional triggers, and get ‘unstuck’ when you’re feeling overwhelmed. They’ll also help you better understand the impact of a mindful physical workspace and the actionable steps you can take to create one if you haven’t.

Finally, offerings will share tips for building your energy reserves so even when practicing social distancing, you can still have meaningful relationships with your colleagues, friends, and family.

Let’s break these down a bit more.

Shifting out of ‘flight or fight’ mode

Understanding the importance of mindfulness especially during times of uncertainty is imperative in keeping our nervous systems in check and training our brains to healthy manage those moments of ‘flight or flight’ activity.

The first of LinkedIn’s mindfulness courses, ‘Mindfulness Practices’ takes a close look at the benefits and power of this skill to fundamentally change the course of your work and personal lives. Across several expert-led guided exercises, you can expect to evolve your mind to better respond to stressors in a variety of ways. More specifically, by growing your emotional intelligence, boosting your confidence, finding resiliency in the face of failure, and improving your focus and creativity even when change and uncertainty are serving as distractions.

Staying focused and grounded

Staying connected and focused without being physically present can be challenging, but there are a number of ways to ensure your time is spent wisely and your meetings are as successful and collaborative than those taking place in the conference rooms. A few practices highlighted in the ‘The Mindful Workday’ session worth noting include using daily breaks positively so you come back to your desk recharged and knowing when to unplug so you have time each day to check in with yourself.

Lastly, ‘Mindful Meditations for Work and Life’ aims to help people incorporate practical and easy approaches to meditation including visualization, adapting body language, and breathing exercises. The audio course led by Scott Shute, Head of the Mindfulness and Compassion program at LinkedIn, will also unpack the meaning of brain-body connection and insights for making whatever practices feel best for your stick so they can be part of your regular routine.

Getting unstuck and managing overwhelming thoughts

Managing Stress for Positive Change’ challenges the agenda that stress is purely negative and can only detract from quality work. Led by Heidi Hanna, PhD, define stress in concrete terms and tips for assessing and adjusting it so it can be used constructively. She’ll also offer ways managers and members of the C-suite can create an environment and communication style that limits stressors in the workplace and keeps efforts focused on the bigger picture during challenging times.

In a separate course led by Heidi titled ‘How to Manage Feeling Overwhelmed,’ learn the best practices for helping your brain disrupt your stress circuits and cultivate calm and positive energy that will put you on the path to resolution and that the obstacles that once felt unmanageable feel manageable again. By training your brain to get unstuck in these moments you can feel more in control and prepared the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Balance is a key term when it comes to stress management. One of the primary reasons people struggle in this area is because often the warning signs of imbalance aren’t as obvious. ‘Balancing Work and Life’ led by author and business coach Dave Crenshaw grapples with this question and more, including how we can keep balance once it is established. A big takeaway? It is possible to juggle it all — work, family, a social life — with proper time management and prioritization.

In addition to these courses, LinkedIn also unveiled over 16 additional lessons that target how to boost your productivity when working remotely, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Cisco Webex and Zoom), and more.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

The post 6 LinkedIn Courses to Boost Mindfulness and Productivity appeared first on Social Media Week.


How Platforms are Helping Brands and Users Navigate COVID-19

COVID-19 has undoubtedly become the dominant focus of our day-to-day lives. Keeping pace with the data, insights, and behavioral shifts can feel dizzying and cumbersome. Several major platforms have stepped up to play fundamental roles in helping marketers and people at various levels navigate through the uncertainty and changes we currently face and will continue to face after the pandemic is behind us.

Let’s break down what these efforts look like in action:


It’s no secret that as the COVID-19 pandemic expands, we face a circulation of various misinformation campaigns including rumored government decisions and ‘cures.’ Messaging apps are playing a key tool in spreading these amongst users.

In response to this trend, Facebook is spearheading new ways to stem the flow of messaging misinformation. One way it’s addressing this is through its instant messaging platform WhatsApp, which is testing a feature that would allow users to search for additional context on a message they encounter via a Google search prompt in-stream. WhatsApp also introduced a WHO chatbot, offering yet another stream to access critical information paired with a COVID-19 research hub.

Separately, Facebook, on its own platform, has taken numerous steps throughout the past few weeks that include:

  • Embedding informational prompts to relevant search queries to guide users to trustworthy information about COVID-19
  • Expanding access to local alerts so specific communities can stay in touch about what is going on around them
  • Providing free ad credits for organizations looking to deliver critical virus-related information and data tracking tools so users can keep tabs on evolving stories
  • Introducing a new set of learning resources for kids and parents to help them safely navigate the internet in addition to a set of tips for remote workers
  • Allocating over $100 million in funding to small businesses, fact-checkers, and local newsrooms


Instagram is banking on the positive coming out of COVID-19 and an era of social distancing by offering ways to take an otherwise isolating and passive experience and transforming it into one that is more social and active.

Specifically, the platform launched “Co-Watching,” which allows users to on a video chat or group video browse through feed posts either Liked or Saved by an individual, or one that Instagram suggests. The goal is to give users the opportunity to have more meaningful conversations about what they’re encountering, incentivize them to use video calls more regularly, and spend more time in the app.

This release is one of several responses by the part of Instagram, including a dedicated Story spotlighting posts from your network that are using the “Stay Home” sticker and all of their quarantine activities. Additional stickers that have surfaced on the app include ones reminding of proper handwashing and keeping a six-foot distance from others if you have to be outside, and donation stickers so users across the world can give back.


To support its audience in a time of need, Snapchat is stepping up through a diverse set of efforts. The platform rolled out several creative tools so people can creatively share information from the WHO with friends and family including Bitmoji stickers with common-sense health tips and a worldwide AR filter with tips for staying safe. Users can also visit the WHO and CDC’s official accounts for updates and browse custom content from the organizations.

Taking the information-sharing a step further, the platform announced an addition to its “Discover” tab: “Coronavirus: The Latest,” where access to high-quality news and information can be easily accessed. More generally, Snapchat is working with over three dozen content partners to provide reliable information.

COVID-19 also prompted Snapchat to speed up the debut of its “Here for You” feature, which went live in February and appears when a user conducts searches for topics related to anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying. A new section was added to incorporate content from the Ad Council, CDC, Crisis Text Line and WHO on anxiety related to the coronavirus.


TikTok is using COVID-19 to identify meaningful opportunities to emphasize its growth and demonstrate its ability to serve as a connective tool for its community. In this vein, it announced a content partnership with the WHO. As part of the collaboration, the platform unveiled a comprehensive COVID-19 resource hub that can be accessed through the “Discover” tab in the app. It also appears amongst the top results when someone enters search criteria pertaining to the virus.

Additionally, on the dedicated page with videos related to the subject, the platform is adding links to serve as a reminder to only rely on credible sources for trustworthy information. The WHO is also using its own verified TikTok account to engage with younger audiences.

Beyond content, TikTok is supporting the WHO financially by donating $10 million to its Solidarity Response Fund used to help get supplies to those on the frontline. “In this time of global distress and concern about the impact of Covid-19, we’ve been inspired by people in towns and cities everywhere whose fundamental humanity is shining through when we need it most,” shared TikTok President Alex Zhu.


During the first month COVID-19 emerged, more than 15 million tweets were sent across Twitter mentioning the virus. The platform has since acted swiftly in ensuring fact-checked and authoritative content was discoverable above the noise and false claims by reawakening its profile verification.

Twitter is also increasing its use of machine learning and automation to take a wide range of actions on “potentially abusive and manipulative content.” This includes detecting spread of false stats and other information, accounts being used to deny or advise against following official advice and promoting treatments or cures that have not been proven. At the same time, the company is being careful to strike an appropriate balance between applying AI as a tool and the role of the human review in these special cases.

BuzzFeed News recently reported that the news media could see an impact “worse than the 2008 financial crisis, which saw newspapers experience a 19 percent decline in revenue.” To support the sector in the absence of some of the smaller, local companies that fuel these publications, Twitter announced a $1 million funding program to be split between The Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation.


Pinterest is doubling down on its effort to combat misinformation by removing inaccurate information and guiding its users to authentic insights through custom search results.

When searching for information about COVID-19, users are directed to a curated Pinterest page from the World Health Organization (WHO) detailing timely and useful details around how to protect yourself, friends, and family from getting sick. This includes hand-washing best practices, when to use a nose or face mask, and more.

In a statement to The Verge, Pinterest said the custom search results is a way to “connect Pinners with facts and myth-bust what’s not true with authoritative information from the [World Health Organization].” The platform also urges users and brands to follow the WHO’s account as a frictionless way to stay updated while they post and engage with others.

This approach has resulted in a significantly lower volume of pandemic-tied posts compared to other major platforms and spurred creative ideas from Pinners. Pins are showcasing products like COVID-19 notebooks for journaling about your experience, while a “coronavirus vibes” board is dedicated to ways to relax and use this time to practice self-care.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

The post How Platforms are Helping Brands and Users Navigate COVID-19 appeared first on Social Media Week.


Coronavirus Motivation

We might be go through a rough storm at the moment but like all storms this one will pass and we will all get the chance to enjoy a beautiful rainbow at the end 🌈 x

Business News and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – For other Business Advice & News see http://mikearmstrong.me & http://mikearmstrong.me/news/

Calming Things To Do At Home To Keep Your Mind Off Coronavirus

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Images via Netflix and Shutterstock

It can be a stressful time for everyone as COVID-19 continues to spread globally, with little sign of slowing down.

Luckily, there are more productive ways to keep yourself occupied than panic or binge-watch series after series.

Below, you’ll find a number of calming activities to do to keep your mind off coronavirus-related news. Take a look.

Dalgona whipped coffee

This three-ingredient beverage with a whipped coffee foam has been taking over the internet lately. The drink, called Dalgona coffee, gained emergence on TikTok and is named after a traditional Korean honeycomb toffee candy with a sponge-like texture. What makes it such a popular activity during this time of self-isolation is that the coffee supposedly requires (at least) 400 whips by hand to turn into the topping—a good way to pass time and give your arm a workout.

The whipped coffee itself requires just two ingredients: instant coffee granules and sugar. You’ll need to mix equal parts of instant coffee, sugar, and hot water, and then whisk them together into a meringue-like mixture with stiff peaks. Pour it over a glass of milk.

People have been whipping the mixture by hand to keep themselves busy during the coronavirus outbreak, but you can also skip to the good part by using an electric mixer.

Paint along with Bob Ross

The world could do with a lot more of Bob Ross’ positivity right now. If you have a Netflix subscription, you can paint along with the late artist on two shows, Beauty is Everywhere and Chill with Bob Ross.

A number of episodes, as well as the full Bob Ross: The Happy Painter documentary, are also available on the official Bob Ross YouTube channel.

Brighten up your days—and walls—with free coloring pages

Cultural institutions around the world have turned their artworks into free coloring pages, delivering hours upon hours of art therapy. Many of these illustrations are truly bizarre, albeit fitting for these strange times.

Live workout sessions

Home Work-in Day 7

Join us for a 🎉 Sunday Funday 🎉 Family edition of Home Work-Ins!

The weekend still feels like the weekend when you’re staying active! Join us on Facebook Live at 7pm ET. United We Move!

Posted by Planet Fitness on Sunday, March 22, 2020

Every day, Planet Fitness hosts live 20-minute workout classes for free at 4pm PT on its Facebook page, so you can get your daily exercise in. Don’t worry if you skip a session, the fitness center uploads its previous sessions online.

You can also check out Apple’s favorite workout apps to keep you fit during the stay-at-home period.

For more ideas on how to keep busy during self-isolation, head here.

[via various sources] http://www.designtaxi.com/news/409177/Calming-Things-To-Do-At-Home-To-Keep-Your-Mind-Off-Coronavirus/

Here’s How Reddit’s Technology and New Partnership are Supporting Mental Health

Today’s teens spend nearly seven and a half hours on their phones each day per a recent report by Common Sense Media, a non-profit dedicated to promoting safe technology and media use for children. Those in the tween category (ages 8 to 12) don’t fall far behind in comparison spending roughly four hours and 45 minutes daily.

As these stats have evolved, there has been a lot of research and discussion around the correlation between this screen time and the mental health and wellbeing of younger demographics. While some argue the linkage is clear and direct, others push back and advocate the connection is more nuanced — that it is about the quality of use that determines whether the relationship to the platforms is healthy and productive or if it’s simply a distraction from larger issues and there isn’t enough adequate mental health services at their disposal.

Younger users are becoming increasingly aware of the negative implications of their social media use and are turning to the platforms to help them take the steps to mitigate these appropriately.


A growing number of platforms including Snapchat and Pinterest are innovating around opportunities to meet their users where they are and connect them with the communities and tools they can take offline. Reddit is yet another example recently unveiling a slew of suicide prevention tools created in partnership with the Crisis Text Line. Specifically, the update includes a feature that allows Redditors to report those who are encountered and felt to be at risk.

Users can flag someone through reporting a comment or piece of content or by using a button on the individual’s user profile. To report directly from a post, simply select the option that reads, “Someone is considering suicide or serious self-harm.” Alternatively, if you’re on the person’s profile, tap the prompt that says “get them help and support.” A note: if you’re accessing Reddit from your computer on a web browser this will fall under the “more options” section.

When a user is flagged, the platform will send a private message including details to access mental health resources and a suggestion to text the phrase ‘CHAT’ to the number for the Crisis Text Line, 741741. They will then be connected to a trained counselor with whom they can text for as long as they need to have someone to actively empathize with them and help them get to the root of their thoughts and feelings.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leveraging artificial intelligence from Reddit and Twitter to improve the forecasting of suicide rates. Its current figures, according to a spokesperson, are currently delayed up to two years, negatively influencing policy updates the allocation of resources. This is a significant problem given suicide rates have surged 40 percent in less than two decades.

Without the most up-to-date numbers, the agency can’t properly respond and improve how it’s directing its efforts so it’s relying on platforms to help whittle down publicly available data and address the question: how can signals from various real-time sources be leveraged in order to offset this one to two-year lag?

A helpful source has been reports that break down keyword use across platforms related to suicide. When combined with other CDC data including crisis text and call lines and previous suicide rates from the National Vital Statistics program, newer algorithms can be trained to forecast the actual rate.

“We can now estimate these rates of suicide up to a year in advance of when death records become available,” said Munmun de Choudhury, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing who is working with the CDC on this project, in a statement to Recode. What does this say for future projections? Data collected until December 2019 can be employed to predict the suicide rate for every week of 2021. She added that the initial phase of the research had an error rate of less than 1 percent.

Social media can be a force for deeper and more empathetic human connection. But, as brands and platforms, we need to put our creative energy behind the programs, partnerships, and technology at our disposal if we are to make a dent in the problem. We have a moral obligation to ensure we’re creating safe and meaningful spaces in which today’s youth can interact and grow and understand the importance of empathy as a foundational skill.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.


The post Here’s How Reddit’s Technology and New Partnership are Supporting Mental Health appeared first on Social Media Week.


How Platforms are Promoting Safety and Mental Health

A growing number of platforms are publicizing their dedication to make good on a fundamental responsibility to prioritize and invest in the health and wellness of its users.

Pinterest recently introduced a series of emotional wellness activities including deep breathing exercises for users searching for solutions to better manage their stress and anxiety. Instagram has also made strides in this regard, releasing a tool, Restrict and expanding its suicide and self-harm content ban.

Additional apps are taking cues from these efforts including Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook. Here’s a look at the latest and why they matter in the grand scheme of our industry.

Snapchat: ‘Here For You’

Ninety-percent of all 13- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat to engage with their friends. This particular demographic is especially vulnerable and internal company research has proven this by showing feelings of stress, depression and anxiety to be the top mental health issues reported by users and their close friends.

Similarly to Pinterest’s mission, ‘Here For You’ is geared more toward offering resources and starting important conversations that resolve these feelings and issues and less about uprooting the product. Specifically, the process works by linking users to a “special section within Snapchat’s search results” when they search criteria indicating they’re in need of support around issues such as anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying.

Illustrated below, if a user were to type in the word “anxiety” they’d be given a selection of short shows to pick from including the series “Chill Pill.” A mixture of original programming made with support from local experts will also be available targeted to topics of suicide, depression, and eating disorders.

According to the announcement, proactive in-app support is just one step towards “what will be a bigger health and wellness push from Snapchat” to be rolled out over the next few months.

“We feel a real responsibility to try to make a positive impact with some of our youngest, sometimes most vulnerable users on our platform,” said Vice President of Global Policy, Jen Stout in a statement to Fast Company. “We know this is the first step of a lot of work we want to do to provide the right resources to our users.”

‘TikTok Tips’: An Influencer-Led Safety and Well-Being Advice Account

Last month, TikTok updated its Community Guidelines to address potential issues with misinformation and expanded its rule around acceptable in-app behavior. Today, the company is taken yet another stand towards helping users make better decisions that are safer and better for their mental health and wellbeing through a new influencer led account dubbed TikTok Tips.

The premise is to use familiar TikTokers to run the feed and dish out fun and friendly reminders to fellow users around how to manage their privacy settings and to take a break from the app. Messages encompass simply getting some added rest while others reinforce the benefit of participating in IRL activities with family and friends to as crucial for building memories.

“We’re on a mission to promote privacy, safety, and positive vibes!” states the account’s description — one that aligns with the platform’s broader mission to serve as an environment of a positive, safe space free of judgment.

While it’s too early to make any declarations on how effective it will be in getting people to re-check their usage and take mental breaks from their constant scrolling, initial video uploads show promising engagement. Two, in particular, have garnered 16.9 million views and 17.2 million views respectively.

‘Facebook’s ‘Hobbi’: An App Dedicated to Tracking Your Personal Progress

In a nod to Pinterest, Facebook is looking to help users focus on their personal growth and development in a new app, Hobbi, via its New Product Experimentation (NPE) team.

As you may guess from its name, Hobbi is dedicated towards giving users an outlet to collect images of their hobbies and interests and sort them into boards so they can easily map their progress. Themed collections can include gardening, cooking, DIY arts and crafts, and more. Outside of the ability to create video highlight reels of your work to share externally on other platforms, Hobbi is not a social networking app, rather an editor and organizer. The editing options and controls are limited, a stark contrast compared to the likes of Instagram. It’s unique in that rather than serving as an outlet to broadcast, its intended use is as a personal log for your achievements, a resource for personal reflection and a compass for growth.

“You might just surprise yourself with how much you have done,” the app description states, encouraging people to push the boundaries and meaningfully engage in the activities that bring them joy, relief, and happiness.

If you’re a company that caters to younger demographics, especially Gen Z, you’ll want to keep tabs on these initiatives and fundamental shifts. Why? Because they are at the heart of what these audiences care about, are interested in, and expect when establishing their loyalty to the brands they purchase from, and the apps they spend their time on.

Learn more about Empathy Economics as part of our 2020 global theme: HUMAN.X and help us establish a human-first, experience-driven approach to digital marketing. Read the official announcement here and secure your early-bird discount today to save 10% on your full-conference pass to #SMWNYC (May 5-7, 2020).



The post How Platforms are Promoting Safety and Mental Health appeared first on Social Media Week.


4 Powerful Lessons in Instagram Storytelling, Inspired by Mental Health Awareness Month

As you know, at Social Media Week we’re tremendous proponents of storytelling. Sharing our stories can endear us to one another, highlight experiences that seem remote or uncommon, and teach lessons that could otherwise seem too complicated or esoteric to explain. It’s especially attractive to share stories of challenge that feature a happy ending. But for millions of people across the United States and the United Kingdom, Mental Health Awareness Month (celebrated each May) means accessing and thinking about stories that are in progress—and often filled with challenge, pain, and shame.

Often a place where difficult stories are glossed over in favor of highlight reels and inspirational quotes, Instagram has come to life in an unexpected way over the last few Mays in a more real, vulnerable, and communal way. There are lessons to be learned from how individuals, brands, and social movements use this space to tell their stories during such an impactful time.

Here, we shine a light on a few of our favorites, as well as the lessons they could offer to our storytelling year round.

From Notes from Your Therapist: Small and simple can win out over polished and produced.

Teacher and therapist Allyson Dinneen has amassed a following of over 100,000 Instagrammers with her teachings about emotions, emotional intelligence, and counsel on relationships. But unlike so many other mental health “meme” accounts, her advice isn’t emblazoned on photos of flowers or vast sky landscapes. She has garnered considerable success, attention, and acknowledgment of breakthrough with something far simpler: brief, handwritten notes.

The notes carry power because followers can imagine themselves coming across her counsel on a coffee table at home, or in a wallet where the mantra was stashed for safekeeping. Seeing these tips and reminders in human handwriting somehow drives home the message: these challenges are real. You are human because, and not despite, having them. And another human being has them or understands them too.

From Talkspace: Brands can and should have real conversations about mental health.

While most accounts on mental health tend to share mantras and generalized tips for challenges surrounding depression, anxiety, panic, and grief, few are equipped to offer counsel. Talkspace, the text-based therapy app, can operate differently in this space thanks to their collective of licensed therapists. And this month, their use of Instagram Stories to engage those in need of help has been a shining example of user-generated content.

Urging their followers and users to use #MyMentalHealthLooksLike, Talkspace has used its stories in two key ways. First, they allow their current subscribers to share their go-to coping strategies through photos and videos, and share this content on their Stories feed. Second, they periodically open their Stories up to anonymous questions from followers and users, dispatching 2-3 Talkspace therapists to offer counsel on submitted mental health challenges. What results is a rich, accepting, and communal space for anyone in search of support. Particularly for users of the app, who often interact with Talkspace in a solo capacity, seeing the community of others who benefit from their services can be powerful.

From I Weigh: Starpower and UGC can converge in moving and important ways.

Former TV presenter and current The Good Place star Jameela Jamil got fed up with the laser focus on thinness, body manipulation, and constant questions about her size after an interview one day. Taking to her Instagram page, she added to a photo of herself all the things she preferred to be known for: lovely relationship, financial independence, willingness to speak out on women’s rights, and other things of that nature that have so little to do with society’s views of appearance. Her I Weigh movement, sparked by followers all across the world responding in kind with their own sources of pride that went beyond their weight, has gone on to be a powerful community for those struggling with body image and those fighting for body positivity.

The account has garnered the attention of celebrities who buy strongly into the message, and Jamil has parlayed that into an interview series on IGTV featuring guests like Sam Smith, Lizzo, and Rose McGowan. In their conversations, they’ve explored how relationship with body can impact mental health and how it intersects with concepts like gender, fame, and physical health. Through it all, Jamil (who still runs the account unassisted) is allowing celebrities and regular people to speak powerfully alongside one another in favor of a world where people are valued for who they are, and not what they can be altered or airbrushed to look like.

From Matt Haig and Rachel Cargle: The circle of those affected is wider than you know.

Without realizing it, many of us may have formulated who lives with – and gets to talk about – mental illness in a public forum like social media. But the benefit of social platforms is getting to find others who struggle in the same ways as you do, building community and allowing what previously happened in murmurs to gain volume and evolve into shouts.

Matt Haig is an author and playwright who has gained fame for his frank talk on depression—a topic not often talked about publicly by men. Rachel Cargle is an educator and activist who gained prominence for, among other reasons, starting the Therapy for Black Girls Fund. Each has used their presence on Instagram and other platforms to encourage populations that otherwise might minimize a need to talk about mental health, or might experience elevated stigman when doing so, to speak up and speak out. And the stories we choose to tell should widen how our personas are developed and marketed to. How far can our influence reach? Can you evolve to share those stories that are frequently lesser heard, but often more widely needed?

From across the Internet: this kind of vulnerable storytelling can – and should – happen year round.

Although there are accounts that will, in some ways, return to “regular programming” come June, there are Instagram accounts telling these challenging but ultimately rewarding and important stories year round. And those who want to lift up stories as part of their strategy can learn from how they do this. If you share stories of individuals, and their circumstances change, provide updates like @ttfapodcast does on behalf of its partner show, American Public Media’s Terrible, Thanks for Asking. Mix up the medium you use to tell stories: @depressedcakeshop highlights people who bake to raise money for mental health awareness, and often features striking photos of delicious, but depression-themed desserts. And @33foreverinc, started by the family of a young woman who died at 33 after a longtime struggle with depression and anxiety, shares stories from multiple perspectives (parents, siblings, friends) about how her journey and their loss feels.

It’s undeniable that these stories have power, and they hold a special power during this “sanctioned” month of sharing and awareness. But we know good stories should know no season. So take a lesson from these vulnerable, sometimes messy, but always inspiring accounts as you ponder how to tell stories without a veneer of perfection—this May, and beyond.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.


The post 4 Powerful Lessons in Instagram Storytelling, Inspired by Mental Health Awareness Month appeared first on Social Media Week.