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The hashtag #OkayMovement is trending across social media in support of those who suffer from mental illness. Founded in 2018 by Peersway, Okay Movement is a not-for-profit online platform that serves as a community where young adults can share their thoughts and feelings about their mental health in a safe and inclusive space. Intended to help break the stigma around mental health illness, those struggling can feel supported and know that they are not alone. Each year, the awareness campaign for Okay Movement coincides with World Mental Health Day on October 10.
Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging.
With a network of over 5,000 Nano, Peersway is an influencer marketing service that does the heavy lifting of managing clients’ influencer campaigns, so that individuals and/or businesses can seamlessly scale their online marketing efforts. Since launching in 2017, Peersway has identified an unsettling trend within their network of Nano Influencers – they experience mental health issues compounded by the pressures of social media. The demands of delivering new, engaging, and daily content online take its toll, with influencers distancing themselves from social media for periods of time to regroup and practice self-care.
To provide a safe platform for influencers, and young adults in similar circumstances, to share their feelings and coping strategies, Peersway launched Okay Movement. The not-for-profit online platform serves as a community where young adults can share their thoughts and feelings about their mental health in a safe and inclusive space. Intended to help break the stigma around mental health illness, those struggling can feel supported and know that they are not alone. Each year, the awareness campaign for Okay Movement coincides with World Mental Health Day on October 10.
World Mental Health Day puts the seriousness of mental health in the limelight. Okay Movement wants to let victims know it is okay to not be okay. With more than 19 million Americans suffering from depression each year, including more than two million people aged 65 and over, it is critical to highlight this disease, its symptoms, and the help that is available, particularly during this pandemic season.
Depression does not discriminate. It can affect anyone at any time, regardless of gender, age, or race. There are several co-occurring illnesses that can contribute to depression including cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, arthritis, and Parkinson’s Disease. Some people believe depression is just a normal part of the aging process, but this is not the case. It is a serious illness that can lead to suicide. Older adults make up only 13 percent of America’s population, but 20 percent of all deaths attributed to suicide. More than 80 percent of people diagnosed with depression can effectively manage their illness with therapy or medication or perhaps both.
Mental illnesses affect 19 percent of the adult population, 46 percent of teenagers, and 13 percent of children each year. People struggling with their mental health may be in your family, live next door, teach your children, work in the next cubicle, or sit in the same church pew. However, only half of those affected receive treatment, often because of the stigma attached to mental health. Untreated, mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, poorer performance at school and work, fewer employment opportunities, and increased risk of suicide.
There are several warning signs for suicide, which are often promoted during World Mental Health Day to demonstrate the seriousness of the illness. These can include feelings of hopelessness, isolation, loss of sense of purpose, and loss of independence. Other signals may include prior suicide attempts, depression, sudden personality changes, giving away prized possessions, daring or risk-taking behavior, the recent death of a loved one, the misuse or abuse of medication or alcohol, and illnesses that significantly limit life expectancy or functioning.
Just as there are warning signs, preventative measures also exist that can and should be taken immediately. If someone vocalizes suicidal thoughts, this should always be taken very seriously, and medical help should be sought immediately. If someone claims intent to act on a suicide plan, they should not be left unattended and emergency services should be contacted. It is better to err on the side of safe rather than have ignored a sign and end up sorry.
The hashtag #OkayMovement shows people experiencing mental health issues that they are not alone. Mental Health is observed annually on October 10th in over 100 countries to promote mental health awareness and advocate for individuals with mental health issues. Since its inception in 1992, World Mental Health Day has helped to expand knowledge, advocate against social stigmas, and support people suffering from a wide range of mental disorders.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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