Mental Health Society The Internet

Mental Health as Community, Identity, and Marketing Target

Bookmarked The BuzzFeedification of Mental Health by P.E. Moskowitz (Mental Hellth)

Did you know that the founder of BuzzFeed predicted that we’d all be yelling at each other about ADHD 25 years ago (kinda)?

Interesting theory that different diagnoses of mental health have been promoted as additional unique identities to be marketed to, though I’m not sure I’m quite that cynical (shocking honestly) / I feel like people gravitate towards like groups and want to identify and build community with others like them, and they are the ones reinforcing those micro-identities as they call them (even if corporations may have encouraged pathologizing neurotypical behaviors in the DSM). Identity politics and grouping are linked with the Internet beyond just mental health. I do appreciate the connection that capitalism feeds on identity.

The social model of disability fits neurodivergence as well as physical disability; it is society that makes other ways of thinking and acting unacceptable or more challenging. But, not sold on diagnosis being equivalent to a BuzzFeed quiz. Even for a changing condition, identifying the source of the challenge can in itself help treat the issue, or allow self-acceptance and compassion that improves other aspects of someone’s life. Realizing your brain is working in a way that it is not helpful to you can start a path of change. And for something like ADHD that reflects differences in brain chemistry, it is something that is part of how you are forever, even if it at some point is not a disability. (Or are they positing that neurodiversity shouldn’t be broken down or classified because diagnoses are too restrictive and reductive? You become more like the parameters of the identity you choose?) For me, anxiety and depression are ways of thinking that I have moved in and out of at different times in my life, and it is useful to know my brain tends that way so I can watch for early warning signs that I’m slipping back in and may need help.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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