The Mighty Logo

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Sharing Alternative Mental Health Treatments on Social Media

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

The internet has the capacity to be a wonderful place for the exchange of ideas and to connect people with others to share experiences and trade ideas in ways that were not thought possible. I like to tell people I grew up with the internet in the sense that the internet was relied on more and more as I got older. I also had internet from a fairly young age, which has connected me with people I talk to even today and have never met face to face. The internet has proven to be a great resource when learning more about myself as well as others, and it has allowed me to start networking for my own mental health advocacy and awareness projects.

At the same time, this free market of ideas we exist on is full of both good and bad information. Especially when it comes to mental health issues, solutions are often served up as absolutes, and sometimes it becomes a debate over semantics and word choice that often devolves into argument. Still, if you can sort through the mess and you know what to look for, you can find a wealth of information on yourself and others.

Sometimes, that information comes with an agenda. One of my biggest pet peeves is the Facebook echo chamber, especially when it comes to mental health. Websites and ads pop up all over my news feed about “natural” and “alternative” ways to manage mental health. Don’t get me wrong, I think finding what works for you is an important part of the journey one goes on when developing self-care routines and coping strategies. At the same time, one needs to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Advertising natural or alternative remedies can be an inadvertent way of shaming those of us who are taking medication to manage things like depression or anxiety.
  2. Research is a key role in any sort of treatment – natural, pharmaceutical or otherwise.
  3. Offering an alternative option to someone with a mental illness can put them in an awkward position because, if they turn it down, they may also feel like they’re turning you down.
  4. If you do not have an MD or PhD, have the humility not to act like you’re an expert in treating mental health concerns.
  5. Anecdotal evidence is not the same empirical data.

I share this not to be dismissive, but to give you some idea of what it’s like to read an article, for instance, on an online class I can take that will somehow resolve my PTSD (for a nominal fee) when I’ve been working on it for years in therapy. Perhaps it is wise to think twice before posting articles that say inhaling an incense will resolve the anxiety or depression I have been living with for over half my life.

Finally, with the above things in mind, it’s important to have faith in the people you’re offering these alternatives to. Have faith that we’ve done the work to research our own experience and what we feel we need to feel and do better.

Getty Image by nd3000

Originally published: January 27, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home