How Have YouTubers Helped Rid The World Of Mental Health Stigma?

9 December 2015, 11:59 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Mental Health YouTubers

By Victoria Pavlova

Relevant to your life, always.

Ok crew, time to talk about mental health. Yes, again. It’s bound to come up when a vast majority YouTube celebs are struggling with mental health problems. This is nothing new.

These days, besides covering themselves in tape and sneezing cinnamon, YouTubers are shining light on the fact mental heath problems are far more common (and normal) than you think. 

Everyone has issues, basically.

Back in 2014, Zoella made a series of videos on her anxiety and panic attacks. A long time ago in a land far far away (NY, 2010), Grace Helbig also confessed to struggling with social anxiety. Rachel Whitehurst (our fave beauty YouTuber of the day) has made a series of videos about her ongoing struggle with depression. And of course, there are YouTubers like BeckieO, whose entire channels follow their mental health journey.

It’s easy to put the trend down to introverted, anxious kids gravitating towards YouTube as a *relatively* safe outlet. It just makes sense for anxiety sufferers to gravitate towards a job, which can be done “from their bedrooms.” But what we really need to take away from this is that a lot of people just don’t feel ok sometimes and it’s not immediately obvious, unless they tell you.

It’s not just a lot of YouTubers, who have issues, it’s a lot of us.

What YouTubers like Tessa Violet teach us is that mental health problems don't always look like pill bottles and locking yourself indoors. Meanwhile, people like Marina Watanabe (look up for deadpan humour and infinite lolz) and CourtneyPants (look up for a ray of sunshine you need in your life) are adamant that seeking treatment through whatever route works best for you is the bravest and most useful thing anyone can do. This includes medication and/or therapy, among others. Basically, there’s no wrong answer in the mental health area.

For many of our faves, it seems finding a following has helped them deal with anxiety and depression. It makes sense on a basic level –  more followers equal more validation and more money means better access to resources.

For the really popular YouTubers though, it also means an unexpected new level of anxiety – large crowds of screaming fans (such as you might find at a VidCon or a Playlist Live), don’t tend to mesh well with any kind of mental illness.

John Green, aka one half of the Vlogbrothers, has been very clear in setting (and explaining) his own boundaries to his 4 million-strong following. In a preemptive post ahead of VidCon 2013, he said this (among other gems):

Quick reminder: I have anxiety problems that make it difficult for me to handle the pressure of, like, being in a room of 6,000 people, let alone having one or several of those 6,000 people talk to me. John Green

As several creators have noted, this doesn’t mean that fans shouldn’t get to interact with their faves in that way. It just means that personal boundaries and safety should be a priority at events and, even in a chance encounter, we should probably be mindful of people’s personal space.  Easy enough, right?

What do you think? Do creators have a responsibility to their fans or is it the other way around?