So recent years have brought us a raft of celebrities pimping their mental illness. In the olden days having to go to a sanitarium was something publicists and movie studios hid from the public. Seeing a therapist was a mark of shame.
Back then, celebrities had drinking problems, drug problems and general off-their-rocker problems.
And I agree that keeping mental health in the shadow of shame was not the best course of action. That lead to mental illness being stigmatized and blah blah blah.
Over time the window has shifted. For about 20 years it was, I got some help, or I went and saw somebody or got myself out of a bad situation or plainly, got me some anti-depressants.
But the window has shifted hard, to the point where now celebs are flaunting their battles with depression, body issues, and so on, with each one trying to top each other in the diagnostic Olympics.
We are now in an era of weakness as a defining characteristic.
First, this is bad because celebrity coverage impacts the impressionable. Kids and young people see a celeb saying they’ve been diagnosed with XYZ disorder and the copycatting begins.
As has long been the case, people talk themselves into mental illness.
For marketers I would caution against avoiding this trend. If you are mentally ill, get help. If you need medication, take it. And yes, you need to develop some grit while you’re at it.
Do not market your mental illness as a strength. Unless you are in the self-help or counseling field.
For anyone else, first of all, no one cares. If you are not a full-fledged celebrity you do not have the force field of fame that keeps people from seeing it for what it is.
Mental illness, by definition, is a weakness. If genetic or biological it is not your fault but it is still a weakness.
You should not be ashamed of it, nor should you hide it. Let me be clear on that. We all have struggles.
Unless again you are in a specific field, people do not buy weakness. They buy strength. They buy confidence and they buy success.
So if you have overcome a weakness and are strong good for you. Sell your strength. Especially if you have earned it.
Selling weakness ultimately creates weakness and breeds disrespect from the customer.
Again if you have overcome adversity good for you. Make it a couple sentences in your story – and then move on to everything you have accomplished since the bad beginning.
People want victory. They want to be associated with it. They, despite what it looks like form celebrity mawkishness, do not want to be associated with broken, dysfunctional beat-up losers.
The mental illness of the week phase will pass. It is a grimy cul-de-sac people will want to forget. I recommend you do not make it a central part of your story.
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