How Instagram's new update is sabotaging self-help communities
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Instagram is a blossoming medium for fashion bloggers, fitness enthusiasts and visual creatives alike. But it is also an invaluable tool for many suffering from mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, OCD and numerable strands of eating disorder. It’s true that, thanks to the incredible publicity provided by Prince Harry and Prince William in their MindsTogether campaign this April, mental health is currently a big talking point in public media. But under the radar, social media has for a long time been home to hidden communities of mental health sufferers, seeking refuge and support in this quiet, anonymous and yet still widely influential online support network. It’s no secret that support for mental health sufferers is sufficiently lacking in most areas of the U.K. Resources, whether inpatient or outpatient, are stretched beyond capacity, and widely dispersed. Even after being diagnosed, NHS waiting lists can be leave mental health patients waiting months for therapy, which for many will later prove impossible to see out due to simple factors such as time or location. For many, recovery and rehabilitation is a journey undertaken independently. Instagram, by being introduced as separate from Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other more identity conscious social platforms has, since its start up in 2010, come to stand as a replacement medium for organised support groups or group therapies for these solo-sufferers. Brought together by the modern language of #hashtags, mental health sufferers let down by the public health system have established hidden recovery communities where they can receive support, encouragement and inspiration from others on the same journey.
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