Medical Misinformation – II: Mental Health Expertise

Disclaimer: This series serves to provide you with misinformation ONLY, as a medium of poorly intended irony. The contents are to be read without much application of brains, and preferably with a pinch of salt – exactly how you’d watch a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie.

Episode 1: How To Become A Mental Health Expert

There is a saying that if you can be anything, be Batman. But then, being Batman would require one’s parents to be billionaires and meet an early, tragic end. Then as an adult, one needs to remain motivated enough to not splurge the inheritance on alcohol or supermodels and instead decide on wearing a tight Halloween dress every night. Of course one would do it to feel good about themselves, as now life is mostly about incessant virtue-signaling. But what if I say anyone could do that while not putting their own life at risk fighting someone else dressed as a clown, and also save others from risks like their body odor due to that tight Batman dress?

Simple: you could become a mental health expert/advocate/enthusiast/activist. Just like an influencer, it doesn’t require any formal training or actual interest in the subject, and unlike an influencer, it doesn’t require you to look good in a crop top. Just like a social activist or environmentalist, it can generate you a lot of goodwill and fame, and just like those two it doesn’t really require you to do much. It is also easier than becoming a self-appointed ambassador for physical health because it is much easier to put on display a very happy social media persona with copious amounts of #gratitude, than actually be seen doing physical exercise.

These days on social media, you might hear a lot of unsolicited notes about mental health which may be necessary in some context (to get conversations started) but is also a part of the social media ‘noise’. We consume so much ‘content’ that much of it becomes a blur in our subconscious memory. That is why some of you who were lucky enough not to opt for biology in senior secondary, still know the relevant keywords and combinations like ‘Dopamine surge’ and ‘Serotonin boost’. While I’m afraid this is not enough, I’m here to help you. Here’s how you can take your Mental Health Know-It-Allness to the next level:

1. Put up data from surveys

A survey says that 92.7% of all surveys are either fraudulent data, or simply works of fiction, including this sentence that you’re reading. Yet, putting up stats not only makes you come out as well-read, but also gives the laughably unbelievable impression that you might actually understand how statistics work. Make sure you throw in a personal sob story or emotional touch because it’s not like you’re talking to a paid-by-the-hour therapist that you’d have to worry about confidentiality. You’re only looking for more followers so, you know, get creative.

2. Use the phrase ‘tip of the iceberg’

The tip of the iceberg refers to something that only a fraction of is visible and a much bigger portion is hidden. Other than your bank balance, the ‘tip of the iceberg’ can be applied to any other thing with inconsequential exaggeration, especially if you want to make an impression that you really care about some problem. Combine it with point 1, for eg, say “a survey found that 2 in every 10 individuals has some mental health issue, however, this may only be the tip of the iceberg, and as many as 265738 people in every 10 people may have a mental health issue, so here are my Ketto/Patreon account details. Donate to me so that I can keep putting up more panic-mongering numbers.”

3. Repost celebrity quotes

Actors are some of the most important and serious advocates of mental health, and every now and then around the release of their movies (or books) can be seen talking about issues like depression. Whenever they take breaks from titillating steps in the item numbers to talk about body-shaming, misogyny and mental health, make sure you share those stories while using all caps to put the captions “WHY ARE WE NOT TALKING MORE ABOUT THIS?”, and “MORE POWER TO YOU”. Their virtual activism is limited to time around promotion dates, but you can spend the rest of the month talking about other pressing global issues like what they wore to the Cannes red carpet or the Met Gala.

4. Make Twitter threads

You are not really an expert at anything unless you have made a Twitter thread on the topic. But where to get the information for the thread, you ask? Go for Wikipedia, Quora, alcohol-fueled creativity, or simply copy threads made by others. Remember: Plagiarism is a mythological concept, and no one cares about verification of ‘facts’ now. The downside of this is that not many people read threads so you may feel your ‘work’ is not appreciated enough. The upside is that you may find a few people gullible enough who’ll start considering you as their Life Coach.

Congratulations! Now you can update your bio. Keep putting up a meme here and another reel there, because you would need to look up-to-date. People will look up to you for advice because you would sound so wise and cool, but that’s easy to tackle because generic sans-context motivation costs nothing (at least to you), and whenever you say “Stay Strong (or Positive)”, half of the world’s problems get solved automatically. You can tell yourself that the world is a better, healthier place because of you, just like fans of club football believe that their team won because they shouted at their TV with a lot of feelings. My wife can vouch for that in my case.

On a serious note, life is hard. If you’ve not realized it by now, you will soon. The important thing is to get help, but more important is to get help from actual professionals, who know what they’re doing. People suspect social media to be the cause of mental health issues, not the solution to them. A family member or a close friend is better than some random social media accounts who portray as if they have it ‘sorted’, Compared to a movie like Dear Zindagi, there are high chances that your problems may be different from Alia Bhatt, and your therapist may not be as charming either. Mental health is much more than three words in an Insta bio.

It’s much more than just another of your body.

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