Mental Health is becoming a business
Last month in Italy, the Italian Parliament blocked the so-called “Mental Health Bonus”. Financial aids to help people get started with a Psychological or Psychiatrical treatment, which would be beneficial since depression and anxiety disorders are raising due to the Covid pandemic.
I know for a fact that older generations, especially in Southern Europe, do not consider mental health a major issue, and they diminish any psychological treatment. However, to think that during a global pandemic politicians expect young people to be resilient and optimistic is beyond my comprehension. Mental Health is a right, not a luxury.
I could not understand how this agreement was taken so lightly by the parliament, but as always, I kept living my life without questioning Italian politics. A few weeks later I was in London, in a tiny newsstand when I saw the new “Entrepreneur” edition. The headline was “Mental Health is a Good Business!” and just under that “Selena Gomez and Co. are setting out to prove it”. This journal was proud of showing a myopic and privileged perception of mental health, so I bought it.
I never been more ashamed of an editorial in my life.
First of all, Health services are indeed businesses. Doctors need a paycheck, pharmaceutical companies and hospitals need funds and capital to keep helping people. However, there is an emerging problem of influencers selling products to “help” people’s well-being. These types of businesses are shameful because they sell unreliable goods using personal brands. Needless to say, they are the ones the “Entrepreneur” editorial was about.
A problematic tendency
There is a trend right now, famous people using their followers and power to sell products for mental health. These products can be self-help books, courses, journals, and even medications.
Influencers, gurus, speakers. They are all trying to sell something that is needed but unrealistically achievable in a short period: happiness. The thing is, these people have no idea what they are talking about.
They are no professionals and, generally speaking, all they do is sell placebos in the form of “revolutionary products”. Well-being is a major business for them because they rely on people’s insecurities to make money.
Let’s face it, even if there were influencers genuinely concerned about mental health they would not be qualified to help you. What would you prefer, having surgery made by an expert or by a Tik-Toker who watched a lot of “The Good Doctor” episodes?
That’s what I thought.
The Entrepreneur's article
Right now, you are probably curious about what the Entrepreneur’s article was about. I will give you an insight, and I hope it will be enough for you. Selena Gomez, her mother Mandy Teefey (creator of 13 reasons why) and the influencer Daniella Pierson are launching a media company about mental health.
The company’s content and I am quoting “rather than take a medical or preachy tone, (the content) will be filtered through the lens of lifestyle and entertainment”. Which is not the best way of portraying a media company about mental health, is it?
It was literally like reading the script to “Don’t look up”, the Netflix movie by Adam McKay. The article is a feverish interview in which the entrepreneurs describe their project and their ideals. To sum it all up, to show you how wrong things this company is, I will use another quote from the interview.
“The best way to ensure that society pays attention to an issue is to make money from it. That’s how true movements are made”.
I hope you are as scared as I am of those lines.
Thank you for your time,