Health

#PostYourPill: The trend aiming to destigmatise mental health medication

Love Island star Dr. Alex George has sparked a social media trend. Here's why.

#PostYourPill trend

A post for #PostYourPill by @jshprsns on Instagram.

The hashtag #PostYourPill went viral on social media as people posted photos of the mental health medication they take to destigmatise the use of antidepressants and other prescription drugs.  
 
The trend was sparked by Dr. Alex George, an ambassador for youth mental health within the Department for Education and former Love Island contestant. 

George posted a photograph of himself holding a little white pill that he takes “to help with anxiety”. Within two days, social media responded with thousands of people posting their own medication. 

In his original Instagram post, which has over 270,000 likes, George said he wanted to “take a stand against medication stigma” and that he was “proud to take control of [his] health”. 

One person who followed George’s call to action is Gemma Bird, also known as @moneymumofficial on Instagram. Bird posted a picture of herself holding a packet of her prescribed medication, which has since attracted 11,000 likes. 

“It resonated with me so much,” Bird told The Big Issue. 

The influencer admitted she had a mixed response to her post, with some people unfollowing her while others shared the post. “If you broke your arm, you would go to the hospital and get it fixed and everyone would think, ‘That’s normal’. But in some ways, your mind can be broken. But because you can’t see it, people say, ‘You don’t need that [medication].’”  

Fashion blogger Laura Donelly also participated in the trend, posting a selfie of herself proudly holding her medication. The post has racked up over a thousand likes.

“When you have celebrities, people on TV talking about it, and then everybody talking about it, it helps people open up to know it’s okay to not be okay,” Donnelly told The Big Issue.  

Psychological therapist Julia Pitkin believes the #PostYourPill trend is a positive movement. “We always think we are unique in our experience, so consequently, we become shy of expressing it, and that creates shame,” she said. 

Pitkin added that the #PostYourPill trend provides “a safe space for transparency which helps us to realise that mental health is a shared experience, which dissolves the stigma”. 

Dr Andrew Mayers, an expert in mental health at Bournemouth University and patron for Dorset Mind, said #PostYourPill was “great”, and added: “For many, these medications are essential to help them return to wellness, and often this saves lives.” 

The #PostYourPill trend comes at a fertile time, as drafts for new NHS guidelines propose offering patients with mental health issues “a menu of treatment options” alongside prescription medication.  

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) introduced the proposed guidance last week. The guidance will encourage patients to consider “cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exercise, counselling, or psychotherapy” as well as medication.  

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the centre for guidelines at NICE, said the new instructions are “urgently required”.

According to the Office of National Statistics, around one in five (21 per cent) adults experienced some form of depression in early 2021, an increase from the previous November. 

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Donelly, the fashion blogger, commented on the new guidelines: “I definitely think it’s a good thing. I heard some people had [doctors] that were too forthcoming or happy to prescribe a pill — ‘there’s a pill, next!’” 
 
“In some cases, especially for low to moderate symptoms, therapeutic options are every bit as effective as medication, without the side effects,” said Dr. Mayers of Bournemouth University. 

Mayers did flag that waiting times for therapy are “often still far too long” and that “anyone experiencing poor mental health needs need much quicker and efficient access to these therapies”. 

Therapist Pitkin said that the new NHS guidelines were “incredibly positive as it sends out the clear message, ‘Let’s talk about it’, which is major step in the right direction”. 

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