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Mental Health Awareness Week: The Influencers Getting us Through Lockdown

When it comes to isolation, the struggle is real. It doesn’t matter how many loaves of banana bread you bake, or how many times you try to perfect the ultimate sourdough starter…one’s mind seems to relentlessly return to the fact we’re on week eight of a god-knows-how-long quarantine, shut off from the world, disconnected from reality.

Without rubbing too much salt in the wound, studying for three Open University degrees and starting every single day with a 6am meditation class on Zoom isn’t necessarily going to be what brings you back to the land of the living. For some (let’s be honest, most) of us, productivity in a world of complete passiveness, is really tough to broach right now.

It’s clear that not being able to live our normal lives can have a pretty negative impact on our mental health – so much so, that on the day after lockdown was initiated here in the UK, a study reported a 36% rise in anxiety.

If you’ve found your way to this article, you’re probably sick of being told to keep calm and carry on – but, thankfully, you’ll find no preachy internet pastors here. This list is a compilation album of the most soothing voices on Instagram and beyond, it’s the influencer mixtape that will do your mental health wonders. We get it – it’s pretty hard to see a silver lining right now, but uplifting content does still exist, and not everyone will make you want to throw your phone out the window and become a hermit.

Whether it’s Lizzo serenading our feeds with her outstanding flute work, Scarlett Curtis doing her make-up whilst discussing her mental health, or Charlie Mackesy making us all cry therapeutic tears with his wonderful drawings, there’s bound to be someone on this list who’ll help put a smile on your face. This is our Mental Health Awareness week gift to you, so without further ado, our top twelve influencers to soothe your lockdown woes!

WHO? Matt Haig

WHAT? The godfather of VERY good captions. Frankly, if there was no one else on Instagram, only Matt and his somehow perfectly constructed thoughts about anxiety, depression and life, it would never feel like an empty place. In a world of constant comparison culture and the disease to please, Matt’s sentences speak volumes about the importance of slowing down and focusing on what makes you happy. Low key could be prophet…

WHO? Lizzo

WHAT? Okay fine, she’s not exactly an “influencer”… she’s more of a global megastar, but we STAN this Queen of cool, Lizzo, who went live on Instagram to offer a refreshing response to the mass panic with a live meditation session, including a soothing play of the flute to help ease anxiety. Dreamy.

WHO? Charly Cox

WHAT? Briefly, she’s an outstanding writer, producer and poet, and online, she’s a godsent. We’re just going to leave this caption of Charly’s here: “This is me reminding you that you should still be using the NHS for your mental illness. Please still book in your appointments, please still ask for your meds to be revised if you think something is wrong, please remember that what you are living with has not depleted in importance because of COVID. My GP a few weeks ago called to say she hadn’t heard from me and when I said I’d felt guilty she put things back into perspective – ‘You also have something that has the potential to kill you, so it is still my priority.’ You are worthy of help.”

WHO? Charlie Mackesy

WHAT? If anything comes out of this lockdown, we seriously hope Charlie Mackesy writes an autobiography – his words, life and art are fascinating, and for such adventure, surprisingly comforting. Instagram wise, Charlie is definitely in the realm of Matt Haig, with his gorgeously simple and cosy captions, but this time next to beautiful blue brushstrokes, that often take the shape of a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse. First, follow him on Instagram, then buy his book: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse on Amazon. Next, devour it in one sitting, and realise we’re all going to be okay.

WHO? Nedra Glover Tawwab

WHAT? Amidst the artists, chefs and flautists, we should probably stick some professional help in this list. Nedra is a professional therapist, who uses her Instagram account to share mental health support, but also make it clear that her posts are no substitute for actually visiting a therapist and receiving personalised care. She believes that social media can help destigmatise the idea of therapy, especially when it comes to minority communities. Nedra’s feed is all about developing a better grasp of mental health issues and learning how to reach out to professionals. If you’re someone who responds well to informed advice, Nedra’s the one for you!

WHO? Nadiya Hussain

WHAT? 2015’s winner of The Great British Bake Off isn’t necessarily going to be your first port of call for mental health help – but she should be, and here’s why: the best kind of support is often the support that doesn’t present itself as “support”. With a feed full of wholesome bowls of #chickensoupforthesoul, you’ll soon come to realise that cooking isn’t just cooking. With Nadiya, cooking is: “process, anticipation, sticky fingers, excitement, crunchy, soft, yummy… home.”

WHO? Beth Evans

WHAT? Beth is an influencer and illustrator who uses her – very adorable – art to address mental health in a relatable way. She has more of a minimalistic style, that is genius-ly simple in the way it never diminishes the impact of her creations. She’s the illustrator behind numerous works, including, “I Guess I’ll Write It Down” and “I Can’t Wait to Cancel This.” Who knows, maybe she’ll inspire you the put pen to paper, and make the most of that art GCSE?!

WHO? Jay Shetty

WHAT? Former monk, a drug-addled adolescence, a sudden spiritual encounter and huge success as a motivational speaker – the introduction of Jay Shetty reads like the synopsis of a Hollywood film featuring a young Leonardo DiCaprio. We know we promised zero preachers in this article, but there’s something oddly soothing about Jay Shetty, despite his chaotic – and very LA – energy. Aside from being genuinely quite inspiring, his story is fascinating. File under ‘mental health support wild card’.

WHO? Aja Barber

WHAT? If you have WhatsApp, and you haven’t been sent the video about ‘The Great Realisation’, are you really in lockdown? Just like ‘The Great Realisation’ – a short video set in the future that tells the story of 2020 post lockdown realisation that we need to live more, and actually enjoy our lives – writer and sustainable style consultant Aja’s feed will help you see the bigger picture. Right now, most of her posts ask: once this storm has passed, how do we want to live? By thinking about the future right now, we can try to make the world a more positive place. It’s time to get hopeful, people.

WHO? Scarlett Curtis

WHAT? The activist, author and influencer is a long-standing mental health campaigner – one of our favourites, in fact – and is getting her followers talking by sharing her own story of struggle, whilst simultaneously getting glammed up. We are 100% here for this kind of genius content, and tbh there is nothing more ASMR that watching someone swirl their face with a fluffy brush.

WHO? Bryony Gordon

WHAT? Can we get a ‘hell yeah’ for the multiple memes shared by Bryony that remind us it’s okay not to be at our most productive during a ******* global pandemic?! Mental health campaigner, author, and journalist Bryony has long been working wonders for our mental health, (it was on her podcast that Prince Harry spoke about having therapy for the first time) but it’s her recent posts that are giving us a much-needed dose of realness right now.

WHO? Elyse Fox

WHAT? In 2017, Brooklynite and filmmaker Elyse Fox founded Sad Girls Club – an online and IRL community where women, particularly women of colour, can talk openly about mental health without stigma. Elyse also released a documentary about her battle with depression and regularly contributes to Broadly, discussing her struggles in a very raw and comforting way. Elyse’s feed is like a understanding hug – get scrolling, immediately.