To help increase awareness and break the stigma associated with mental illness, here are 10 influencers and mental health advocates you should follow in 2019.
Reducing stigma and providing reliable, top-quality education on addiction and mental health disorders is one of our highest priorities at The Recovery Village. We encourage conversation and accurate information sharing on these topics to help achieve that goal.
That’s why we’re showcasing mental health advocates, experts and writers who are leading the charge on mental health awareness. Follow them for their expertise and unique perspectives on mental health.
Hilary is a licensed clinical social worker and the author of the award-winning book, “It’s Not Always Depression: Working the Change Triangle to Listen to the Body, Discover Core Emotions, and Connect to Your Authentic Self.” She’s also published articles in The New York Times, Time and professional journals.
Why follow? Her website teaches people the Change Triangle as a method to work through their emotions. She believes that “emotional education is a crucial missing piece in public mental health. Our world teaches us to avoid and bury emotions.” We can’t help but agree.
Natasha is an award-winning mental health writer and speaker who has bipolar disorder. She’s written over a thousand articles about bipolar disorder and a book, “Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.” She is inspired to offer support and high-quality information to others because of her own journey navigating her diagnosis while still trying to create her best possible life.
Why follow? Natasha says there’s a “vast need for realness when talking about mental illness,” and she delivers. Her firsthand accounts of life with bipolar disorder are open, frank and heartfelt — even on difficult topics like self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Her standout post about what she says and how she actually feels when someone asks “how are you?” may help you better understand how some people with the bipolar disorder cope.
Only 90 seconds of airtime changed sports broadcaster Michael Landsberg’s life. During a segment on his show, “Off the Record,” he briefly shared his struggles with severe depression, which connected with viewers and ignited a passion for speaking up about mental health. In March 2016, he launched sicknotweak.com with the goal of changing the conversation about mental health with a declaration, “I am sick, not weak.” Since then, the site has posted hundreds of stories from celebrities and “everyday people,” bringing together a community and creating a safe place to belong and to speak up. Landsberg says the site “allows [him] the rare opportunity to use the worst thing in [his] life (depression) as one of the best things in [his] life (helping others).”
Why follow? Exclaiming “I am sick, not weak” is a powerful message at a time when myths and misconceptions about mental health still abound. #SickNotWeak is a rallying cry and a club motto — Landsberg equates the movement with a family. The site’s social channels are a steady stream of mental health tips and affirmations and sicknotweak.com delivers powerful, personal messages that are raw, passionate, sometimes irreverent, but always honest.
You may have already seen, heard or read Therese’s work. She is a popular mental health advocate who has appeared on TV shows like “Fox & Friends” and “ABC News Now.” She is a regular guest on radio shows throughout the country and has written for many national publications as well as her own titles, “Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes” and “The Pocket Therapist: An Emotional Survival Guide.” She says her mission is “providing a light in the darkness and help[ing] people feel less alone in their struggle for wellness.”
Why follow? Her Instagram feed is full of uplifting quotes to inspire you. On her blog, she writes about anxiety and depression in a straightforward, relatable way, including her own mental health struggle working with different doctors and trying multiple medications and alternative therapies before finding hope again.
Claire Eastham is a best-selling author and award-winning mental health blogger who frequently draws on her personal experience with social anxiety and panic attacks. Claire acknowledges that being diagnosed with mental illness can feel scary and isolating, especially with the complicated or confusing terminology often used to describe these conditions. Her goal is to “bridge the gap between mental health professionals and those living with a mental health disorder.”
Why follow? Count on Claire to be candid. It’s like getting information and support from a friend who actually knows something about mental health or, as Claire puts it, “expect humour and a steady stream of curse words.”
The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 300 million people in the world living with depression, meaning that a significant part of the population is either directly or indirectly affected by this mental health condition. That’s where blurtitout.org comes in. Blurt is a social enterprise dedicated to helping those affected by depression, from encouraging you and your loved ones understand depression, to providing supportive resources and a community of others like you.
Why follow? Blurt offers a space where people can talk openly about depression and find resources, like printables and guides, to help yourself or a loved one affected by depression. Their Instagram feed is full of illustrated tips, reminders and advice, while their blog delivers interesting and informative articles you’ll actually want to read like, “Helping a Friend with their Depression When You Don’t Live Nearby” and “A Letter to You, For When Life Feels Pointless.”
Dan Lukasik is a lawyer and the current Director of the Workplace Well-Being for the Mental Health Association in Buffalo, New York. Dan has also struggled with depression. Ten years ago, he created lawyerwithdepression.com to share his personal story of living with depression, learning to manage it and coping with the stigma that accompanies mental illness to help others in the legal field who also deal with depression.
Why follow? The blog may be written by and for the legal community, but there are great insights for all of us in Dan’s writing. He shares personal stories of hope, like this one, alongside what it’s like to have uncomfortable coffee-shop conversations about your meds. His writing is personal, relatable and can help anyone struggling with depression feel just a little less alone.
Talkspace, created to offer therapy for the way we live today, publishes a blog written by staff writers and mental health professionals. Their subscription service provides high-quality mental health care from the comfort of your own device and has been used by over 1 million people.
Why follow? Informative posts like “Anxiety Attack vs. Panic Attack: Which One Are You Having?” and “What is a Mental Health Counselor” provide solid answers to your burning mental health questions. Their inspirational Instagram feed doesn’t hurt either.
Anita Sanz is a licensed psychologist who helps people learn how to improve their mental health and enjoy life more. Her message to people is that “life is a manageable if messy enterprise, there’s a solution to every problem, traumas can be healed and you can continue to grow and learn forever.”
Why follow? Her Quora answers to questions like “what are some anxiety or depression hacks?” and “what do therapists talk about in session after a client’s suicide attempt” feel human, honest and most of all, insightful. She also posts “the plan for the day” on her Facebook page, with actionable suggestions and mental health inspiration.
Dr. Tracey Marks is a psychiatrist who works with patients on overcoming burnout, anxiety, depression and other stress-related issues. She also specializes in sleep problems.
Why follow? Dr. Marks uploads new videos weekly to her YouTube channel that cover a broad range of mental health topics like how to tell the difference between burnout vs depression and what do we do when meds don’t work.
There are a few more influencers who didn’t make our list but are definitely worth an honorable mention.
Dr. Keely Kolmes
Dr. Keely Kolmes is a licensed psychologist in California with an inclusive practice that welcomes and helps all people with issues related to depression, anxiety and relationships.
Why follow? Dr. Kolmes is a leader in social media ethics for mental health professionals and is passionate about couples and relationship therapy. Dr. Kolmes often shares interesting information and research on these topics, like what your internet behavior says about your psychology.
Miriam Slozberg is a writer and blogger who lives with major depressive disorder. She’s an advocate for mental health and destigmatizing mental illness.
Why follow? Miriam authors an award-winning depression blog. She likens the stigma surrounding mental illness to asking a cancer patient to “snap out of it” and advocates for mental illness to be treated like any other illness.
Mark Henick is a mental health strategist and advocate who has drawn on his personal and professional experiences with the current mental health system to open up about the societal stigma against mental illness. His TEDx talk, “Why We Choose Suicide” is one of the most watched ever, with 5.9 million views as of May 2019.
Why follow? Talking about suicide and suicide ideation is uncomfortable for many people. Mark confronts these and other topics using storytelling as a means to “challenge the concept of normalcy.”
Dr. Denise McDermott, M.D.
Denise McDermott is a medical doctor with board certifications in both adult and child psychiatry. She’s also an author, podcaster and mental health advocate who’s passionate about bringing together psychiatry, science and spirituality into the conversation about health.
Why follow? Dr. Denise tweets regular doses of positive, affirming messages and stories (like this one) with a focus on inclusion (#InspireALL) and continuing the conversation around mental health (#KeepTalkingMH).
David Susman, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist, mental health advocate and an assistant professor in Psychology at the University of Kentucky. Over his 24-year career, Dr. Susman has treated thousands of patients with serious mental health and substance use disorders. He considers it a personal and professional calling to use his experience and unique perspective to provide helpful, easy-to-understand information about mental health and send the message that “help is available, treatment works and there is hope for a brighter, more fulfilling future.”
Why follow? His “Stories of Hope” series features dozens of stories from real people, from all over the world and many different walks of life, who live with mental health disorders. These stories share both challenges and triumphs from their mental health journeys and remind us all that we’re not alone in our struggles.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.