illustration of social media mental health influencer
The Winter Issue

8 Stigma Busters Shifting the Way We Think About Depression

With the rise of social media as an educational resource for a multitude of topics, even mental health professionals are taking advantage of social platforms to create digestible content packed with timely mental health tips and insights for consumption. Many of them are currently influencing how people think about depression and debunking the stigmas related to this and other mental health conditions.

This article spotlights eight public figures who are openly discussing depression and destigmatizing the conversations that come with the diagnosis.

Peace Amadi

Handle: @peaceamadi

Dr. Peace Amadi, PsyD is a psychology professor, author, speaker, and coach to many, who additionally provides media content on multiple outlets, such as TedTalk, and ABC News, as well as social media platforms. She also provides mental health knowledge in her free Inner Child Love Boot Camp and book, “Why Do I Feel Like This."

Peace connects psychological concepts with spirituality, incorporating the Christian faith and biblical passages into her practices. She is an advocate for addressing certain stigmas often associated with depression in the Black community and Christian religion. Peace created a particular video debunking the myths about depression being a “sin," “spirit,” or “lack of gratitude.” Mental health experts, such as Peace are contributing to ridding these stigmas and accurately educating the public about depression and other mental health concerns.

Peace offers an environment where spirituality and psychological practices can coexist and contribute to a more profound self. She also openly discusses her journey of not conforming to the outside world’s, including the church’s expectations of her life, but doing what was best for her and trusting in those plans.

Rachel Havekost

Rachel Havekost is a best-selling author of “Where The River Flows," a memoir of her healing journey of battling an eating disorder and divorce. She possesses a master's degree in mental health counseling, however, decided on a career in healing writing. Aside from being an author, she also offers classes, workshops, and consultations tailored to guide individuals on their path to healing. Rachel integrates psychological methods with alternative therapies.

By sharing her own story, Rachel sets an example of how important it is to grow in vulnerability and shows the healing that takes place when being open and honest about one’s mental health. Rachel explains to Verywell Mind, “As someone who has dealt with mental health issues for 18 years, I have found that one of the most potent vehicles for change is knowing I'm not alone…My hope is to create a space online where people don't feel less than. Instead, I hope they feel seen, understood, and deeply held no matter what they're going through.”

Although she has almost 300K followers on TikTok, Rachel informs readers of how important it is to detach from social media, especially for mental health purposes: “If you're reading this please know that you don't have to use social media as a place to find these spaces. While I have worked hard to create safe spaces on Instagram and TikTok, I also feel the weight of the online social world and am a huge advocate for getting off the digital plane and into the physical.”

Imani Tutt

Imani Tutt, MFT-LP, is a certified marriage and family therapist-lp and an intuitive coach who offers group and individual coaching sessions and courses. She helps individuals overcome heartbreak and heal past wounds, guiding them in their journey of self-discovery and self-awareness.

Experiencing her own journey to self-love, she has created a safe space to openly address the trauma associated with relationships and love, especially for millennial women. She allows women the opportunity to begin a journey of healing from the hurt and pain brought on by unhealthy relationships and develop skills for practicing self-compassion and acceptance.

On her website, Imani expresses to potential clients that “the healing journey can be tough, it has its ebbs and flows. You're meeting all these new parts of yourself, parts you didn't know existed-that can be scary. I myself have gone through my own healing journey, I remember how isolating it was during the entire process. That's why I created Imani.intouch Coaching Services.”

Through her coaching, courses, and content on social media, she provides the advice and insight needed to overcome the oppression of toxic relationships and address the unhealthy patterns that may be present in relationships. 

Mai Abe

Handle: @Maiabemtbc

Mai Abe is the founder of Creative Vibes Music Therapy in the San Francisco Bay Area, where most clients are teens/adults who suffer from mental health issues, substance use, and neuropsychiatric disorders. As a board-certified music therapist, she uses music as a tool to help increase self-esteem and confidence. 

She fights toward breaking stigmas and discrimination associated with mental health in the Asian community. Mai expresses how these stigmas have affected her life: “As an Asian American woman, I grew up in spaces where mental health was rarely, if ever, spoken about…Being in the mental health field has given me tools and knowledge that allows me, through holding space for others, the ability to hold space for myself as well.”

With such a sizable TikTok audience, Mai passionately discusses topics along the line of racism in mental health, relationship conflict, depression, and so much more. She uses social media to educate, inform and encourage others about “anti-oppressive practice, restorative justice, and community care”.

Mai Abe

One of the things I believe we need to be better at is to stop classifying depression as an 'individual' problem. Depression may be an understandable result of the experiences you've had, the generational trauma you and your family have experienced, and societal expectations placed upon you.

— Mai Abe

Dr. Kojo Sarto

Handle: @Drkojosarfo

Black men are often expected not to speak about their mental health or admit when they are experiencing depression and other mental health issues. As a Black man certified in psychotherapy, Dr. Kojo Sarto is making strides within the community of Black men silenced by stigmatization and discrimination. Kojo is not only a psychotherapist but a mental health nurse practitioner, comedian, author, and writer. In his book “You Already Won,” Kojo discusses the journey that led him to become a health professional. 

Having 2.3M followers on TikTok, Kojo is very popular on social media and entertainment platforms, including on his late night TV show, offering various information on mental health—especially ADHD. He also provides educational content on managing depression, which can inspire individuals, especially Black men, to speak out about their depression. 

Dr. Judith Joseph

Dr. Judith Joseph is a board-certified psychiatrist who offers services to children, adolescents, young adults, and adults. She utilizes social media to “educate the public about evidence-based treatments and diagnoses." With over 100K followers on both Instagram and TikTok, she supplies credible content that informs individuals of the truths surrounding psychiatric care. She helps break stigmas associated with psychopharmacology and the use of medication to treat mental health conditions.

When discussing depression, Judith mentioned the stigma surrounding the idea that depression does not exist in people who are high functioning. She states that “people often associate depression with someone who is low functioning, but there are many people walking around with high functioning depression, and they go to work and take care of their families every day but are emotionally distraught". Judith also takes the time to inform the public of different medications and how they work. 

She informed Verywell Mind of her experience as a psychiatrist, explaining that “With psychiatry, I have patients that I treat throughout childhood and adulthood, and I am privileged to be a part of their journey."

Dr. Judith Joseph

Everyone has mental health the way that everyone has physical health, and I think it is important to maintain and to nurture both.

— Dr. Judith Joseph

Logan Cohen

Logan Cohen is a certified therapist and fitness coach with over 1M followers on TikTok. He discusses the problems surrounding toxic masculinity, stigmas associated with men and mental healthcare, and cues that may not be considered when assessing mental health issues in men. 

In a TikTok video regarding healthy masculinity, he expresses the importance of vulnerability and acceptance of emotions. Not only does he educate men about vulnerability, but he also "walks the walk" by sharing his own journey with addiction and the experience of losing friends to this disorder.

He informed Verywell Mind that his focus on mental health & counseling was influenced by his personal experiences. Logan shares, “I grew up in a household with untreated mental health issues and addiction, then developed my own addiction issues as a young adult.” He deeply taps into his healing journey in his book “How to (Hu)Man Up." His story and efforts inspire everyone, especially men, struggling with trauma, addiction, and depression. 

Jacqueline Garcia

Handle: @therapylux

Jacqueline Garcia is an advocate for mental health in the Latinx community. As a certified therapist with expertise in trauma, she informs individuals about the trauma related to suppressing mental health issues in this community. She created a video that focuses explicitly on the different stigmas associated with mental illness in the Latinx community, like mental illness being a “choice.”

Jacqueline has experienced being in a Spanish-speaking household and adjusting to a different culture as a teenager when interacting with the outside world. The stigmas and biases associated with her Hispanic culture did not help with that adjustment, but these experiences led her to become a therapist and advocate for her community. Jacqueline also provides content about other trauma-related topics, the importance of vulnerability, and establishing boundaries.

A Word From Verywell

Every one of these public figures has developed a large following on social media, and their content reaches thousands of people, for some, millions. Too often, social media is the only place some people run across mental health information because they do not know where or how to seek it; many don’t even realize they need it.

The mental health experts mentioned in this article may help steer individuals in the right direction to seek the help they need. However, it is important to note that social media content is not meant to replace therapy or act as a treatment method for mental health issues.

Seek professional help when necessary and reach out to those who care for you and whom you can trust.

By Tiara Blain
Tiara Blain, MA, is a freelance writer for Verywell Mind. She is a health writer and researcher passionate about the mind-body connection.