Mental health has been a hot topic lately, and rightfully so. From experiencing an ongoing global health crisis to thinking about a looming recession, people are starting to open up more about their emotional health online.
But are these creators the right fit for a partnership? Since their subject matter is much more sensitive than that of a beauty influencer or a cooking creator, should brands work with them to promote products and services? The answer is: It depends. Let’s dive in.
How influencers are bringing more awareness to mental health
Is social media breaking down the stigma that surrounds mental health? Maybe. Creators understand the importance of developing authentic connections with their audiences, so they don’t hold back when they’re experiencing negative emotions, something many influencers would have held back from doing years ago.
And as niche communities grow on platforms like TikTok and YouTube, people with mental health conditions are focusing on educating people and sharing their unique experiences with mental health.
With follower counts that sometimes go into the millions, more and more people are getting to know the ins and outs of mental health with their favorite creators.
Social media’s impact on mental health
Over the years, there has been a lot of concern about the effects of social media on mental health. Between promoting images of an ideal life that can make people feel like they aren’t measuring up to boosting body image concerns, social media hasn’t always been the best place to care for your mental health.
There have also been reported phenomena of people picking up tics after watching neurodivergent creators. And many social media users have also begun self-diagnosing after seeing their favorite creators talk about the symptoms they experience, which can be dangerous.
But the effects haven’t all been negative. Mental health accounts, when managed properly, allow users to feel seen and communicate with people just like them. And the more people post, the less stigma there is, meaning more and more people may begin seeking professional help. =
Understanding the different types of mental health influencers
Mental health professionals
The mental health community is large, with psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, researchers, and more working to help people experiencing mental illness. And while they are all passionate advocates for people seeking professional help, they understand that not everyone can access it or people just need a little help between appointments.
They typically cover a variety of topics, from their takes on the mental health industry, what an appointment with them may look like to information about different medications and conditions.
People with mental illness diagnoses
There’s been a lot of stigma placed on mental illnesses and mental health in general over the years, which led to people not talking about it. Now, people with conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, eating disorders, trauma, and more are sharing their experiences to educate the public and create communities for people with the same conditions as them.
Taking care of your physical, emotional, and spiritual health can profoundly impact your mental health, and these creators are here to remind you to implement self-care practices. They’re quick to recognize that the same thing doesn’t work for everyone, so they discuss different options, how to implement them, and potential benefits you may see.
Should brands partner with mental health influencers?
Depending on your products and services, a mental health influencer could be a good fit. However, there are definitely some considerations to keep in mind if you’re thinking about this type of partnership:
- Ethical considerations: Many view the act of advertising a product to a vulnerable population as unethical, and they won’t be shy when sharing their feelings.
- How people will perceive these ads: People experiencing mental illness want real solutions, and if they think you’re just trying to make a quick buck off of them and profit off their condition, they will be vocal about it.
Therefore, it’s essential for brands to review each creator’s content before having them go live with their branded posts. Ensure at least one person on your team is dedicated to making sure all posts are within brand standards.
Will mental health influencers even partner with brands?
The answer to this question: It depends. Depending on the type of product, it can be difficult to earn an endorsement from a mental health professional since they would need to vet it thoroughly, and some may not want to put their credentials on the line.
Creators who are developing communities around their shared mental health conditions may be more likely to promote a product, but in general, they would need a long time to try it out and see if it actually benefits them. If they don’t absolutely love your product and think it will help their community, they won’t endorse it.
Self-care advocates are the most likely to promote something on their accounts since this field is more general and doesn’t need much evidence.
@lexxhidalgo FEEL your feelings #GreenScreenScan #mindfultips #mindfulness ♬ original sound – Lexi Hidalgo
Top 18 mental health influencers
Top mental health influencers on TikTok
@nottheworstcleaner What do you guys think? ❤️ #cleantok #cleaningtiktok #cleaningmotivation ♬ original sound – Not the Worst Cleaner
Brogan is a psychologist and mega influencer who teaches her followers about the correlation between mental health and cleaning. Her judgment-free space showcases videos of her tackling major projects in which she helps people struggling with mental health issues by cleaning their homes for free. She provides hope and a fresh start for many, and she’s quick to share her recommendations for her favorite cleaning products.
@jessekatches always be sure to check in with your doctor first 🏻 stimulating the vagus nerve my help reduce heart palpitations along with providing some other mental health benefits that could improve anxiety. some ways to do that is with cold exposure (like water on the face), singing, humming, chanting, or deep breathing, just to name a few. #fyp #vagusnerve #anxietyrelief #anxietysupport #heartpalpitations #palpitations #vagusnervestimulation #mentalhealth #mentalhealthsupport #mentalwellness ♬ original sound – Jesse Katches
Jesse Katches is a macro creator in New York who shares motivational posts, quick fixes for small problems caused by anxiety, and his experience with OCD and mental health. While not a doctor, he provides gentle help for people who want to feel seen and understood.
@yena_hu Understanding what your own needs are can be hard when you’ve had to prioritize the needs of others. Anyone else relate to this? #parentification #traumarecovery #boundaries #parentifiedchild ♬ I dont suck mantra version II – Felicia Aquilo
Yena Hu is a certified trauma recovery coach and micro influencer sharing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) awareness and education. Childhood and familial trauma are some of the most common subjects she covers, and she helps break down the complexities for her viewers.
@sarahalpotter I’m currently in a manic episode. I believe I am on the exit part. Here’s what that looks like… #manic #mania #bipolar1 #bipolar2 #bipolardisorder #unhealedchildhoodtrauma #emotionalneglect #childhoodtrauma #traumatized #traumatok #bipolar ♬ original sound – Sarah Potter
Sarah Potter is a neurodivergent, queer creator with ADHD and bipolar disorder who parents a child with autism. In an interview with Buzzfeed in which she explained how trauma can affect your entire life, she said, “Trauma can feel like seeing the world through gray-colored glasses. Everything has lost its touch, its passion, and feeling.”
However, Sarah uses her experiences to help people feel like they aren’t alone. She shares her struggles, provides calming affirmations, and advocates for her viewers to seek professional help.
@wakeupandsmelltherosay Replying to @⛓🌙⛓ Lots of practice to honour hunger and challenge restrictive thoughts! #foodfreedom #edrec0very #edtherapist #anarecoveryy #b1ngeeating #antidietculture #haes ♬ Forget – XXKATUSJINSUX
Natalie Rose is an eating disorder therapist and micro influencer who experienced an eating disorder herself. She frequently posts mental affirmations, info about the damages of wellness culture, and content about having a healthy relationship with food to help her viewers “wake up to their best selves.”
Top mental health influencers on Instagram
Nedra Glover Tawwab is a New York Times-bestselling author, therapist, relationship and boundaries expert, and mega influencer. She provides affirmations (which she refers to as “#nedranuggets”) and offers book recommendations, resources, quizzes, Q&As, and more.
Jenna Overbaugh is a micro creator and therapist specializing in OCD, anxiety, and postpartum depression. When she’s not treating patients or posting online, she’s recording episodes of the All the Hard Things podcast.
Ciandra Birnbaum is a micro influencer and eating disorder therapist who provides bright graphics that share essential ED recovery tips. She offers helpful advice (like how to remove weight loss ads from your Instagram feed), comforting affirmations and support, and much more! She also is the host of the Am I Bananas? podcast.
Laura Jane Jones provides a pastel-colored approach to brighten her followers’ IG feeds and help them get the affirmations and advice they need to take care of themselves. Her bright graphics will bring a smile to your face and a sense of peace to your heart and mind.
Nawal Mustafa, perhaps better known as The Brain Coach, is a mega creator, clinical neuropsychology Ph.D. student, and cognitive neuroscientist. Whether she’s sharing a quote, a list of questions to ask yourself, or tips for navigating life, Nawal always brings compassion and empathy to her posts.
Top mental health influencers on YouTube
Psych2Go is an animated channel that breaks down complicated mental health concerns in easy-to-understand videos. The creators even tie in pop culture references where appropriate to make these topics even more digestible. Psych2Go started when the account’s founder received his psychology degree and realized there was a ton of value in being able to share what he learned with the world.
Dr. Tracey Marks is an Atlanta-based psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience. She’s also a mega influencer on YouTube, with videos covering topics like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, and more, and she’s passionate about nutritional psychiatry and uncovering how the foods we eat impact our mental health.
Rowena Tsai is a macro influencer who started her channel “in hopes of encouraging [her] peers to take an honest and sober look at their lives to see if they’re living the life they proactively choose to live.” Her videos cover topics like rest, productivity, work-life balance, habits, and more. She also co-hosts the Voice Hugs podcast and is a host and co-producer on The Beauty Within YouTube channel.
You can also find Rowena on Instagram.
Dr. Ali Mattu is a clinical psychologist, former assistant professor at Columbia University, and macro creator. He shares everything from mental health tutorials, psychology career advice, pop culture reactions, and more. He breaks down complex topics and makes them easy to understand for his viewers.
Julia Kristina is a macro influencer and registered clinical counselor who posts videos to help viewers implement research-backed cognitive strategies, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and self-compassion, into their daily lives. She does so in order to give her viewers the “tools to make the necessary changes to help [them] feel happier, more confident, and less anxious so [they] can love [themselves] and [their] life more every day.”
Top mental health Twitter accounts
I was asked to do a presentation on #mentalhealth #postpandemic & had to explain that the current #pandemic isn’t over. If someone wants to talk about the current pandemic and how it is impacting those with #chronicillness and #disabilities, I’m here! Presenting via Zoom! ✌🏼
— Dr. Keely Kolmes (@drkkolmes) October 19, 2022
Dr. Keely Kolmes is a psychologist, writer, speaker, consultant, ethicist, and micro creator. She’s been featured in many major publications, including The New York Times and TIME, and she frequently posts about COVID, LGBTQIA+ issues, and book recommendations.
Today on The Happiness Lab, does living #YOLO make us happier? I chat w/@PeteDDavis on the power of commitment, @DanTGilbert & @BarrySch explain the science of choosing, & @GratefulDead drummer @mickeyhart explains that we got his famous acronym all wrong: https://t.co/Ibv4gphBAa
— Laurie Santos (@lauriesantos) October 17, 2022
Dr. Laurie Santos is a professor of psychology at Yale and the host of The Happiness Lab podcast. She delves into scientific research to “ share some surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness.”
Thinking u understand clinical depression b/c u experienced situational sadness is like thinking u know Italy b/c u went to the Olive Garden
— Paul Gilmartin (@mentalpod) October 31, 2015
Paul Gilmartin is the host and producer of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast. He’s also a self-proclaimed “self-loathing catastrophiser and ruminator extraordinaire.” On his account and show, he talks about topics like panic attacks, people pleasing, finding meaning and purpose, and various mental illnesses.
You can also find Paul on his website.
Key takeaway: Mental health is complex, and so is working with mental health influencers.
Our word to the wise: Be careful. If you have evidence that your product or service can bring real benefits to people struggling with their mental health, then partnering with the right creators may be beneficial. But take the time to create a thoughtful approach that helps people feel heard rather than exploited.