“….The message [of the movement] is transparency. My message has always been transparency. Honesty is a healer. If you aren’t being honest and transparent, you aren’t dealing with the root of the problem. In turn, our honesty and transparency inspires that in others. It’s a very contagious thing. It’s sad that it’s not our normal, but I’m hoping this movement changes that.”
After The Mighty published an article about Jones’ medication selfie on Wednesday, September 2, Jones received hundreds of messages from people thanking her for saying what they needed to hear. Jones estimates that she’s heard from at least 50 people who’ve told her they’ve filled a prescription, made an appointment to see a doctor or otherwise sought help because of her message.
To know that by just being honest about my shortcomings, all of these people are receiving the help they need, is very humbling and overwhelming,’ Ms Jones said.
And now Ms Jones’ message, shared via The Mighty, has sparked a worldwide social media campaign, with mental illness sufferers from across the globe sharing their own images using her hashtags.
‘It gave her the idea of starting a hashtag for people to share their medication and prescription selfies, and after collaborating with The Mighty, she started the hashtag #MedicatedAndMighty,’ The Mighty explained about the campaign.
‘#MedicatedAndMighty has created a space for people to talk about their medication and help erase the stigma surrounding asking for help in the form of a prescription.
‘For ]Ms] Jones, it’s also a reminder of the strength in community and the power of solidarity.’
I was originally alerted to this story through the Rxisk.org Twitter feed (screenshots above). Just so people know that I didn’t just pluck it out of thin air! But maybe it’s just a coincidence that the “Medicated And Mighty” hashtag goes viral from a new social media (content/marketing) website called The Mighty (which intends to profit from Pharma affiliations of its human interest health stories).
Personally, I believe that Erin Jones’s (‘Mutha Lovin Autism’ blogger’s) original blog post was written with good intent and I believe she is sincere, and I don’t for a second think she did anything underhanded or untoward, however I would be a little cynical about the involvement of The Mighty web site in this hashtag campaign. What is this website gaining from promoting this story? What is it gaining from participating in a viral campaign like this? It is a business, after all…
Marketing companies hijacking, distorting, or jumping on board- genuine human interest stories and viral internet campaigns- are nothing new, but we are talking about the endorsement of very serious psycho-tropic medications here; they are not candy and they should never be treated as such. The side effects of these meds should be highlighted in this campaign too and the involvement of The Mighty (in whatever capacity) in the campaign should have been explicit from the very beginning.
But Maybe I have it all wrong? (and maybe Rxisk.org does too?)
For those of us involved in spreading awareness of the dangers of psychiatric medications through Twitter, most would be aware by now of the ‘#MedicatedAndMighty’ hashtag campaign and the so called ‘#Pillshaming’ campaign. The idea behind both campaigns was apparently to end the stigma of taking psychiatric medication for ‘mental illnesses’. I have to say, I agree with what Rxisk.org tweeted, ‘real progressives de-stigmatize people not corp products’ (anti-depressants). People should be defending the right to choose, one side (pro or anti-med) is not better than the other, this is not a war, or a fight between sides, and anyhow, there are many shades of grey, this debate is far from black and white.
This debate is still ongoing on twitter, and it can get quite heated at times. I never thought that taking medication was a weakness at all, however I do think that there is a lot of stigma and misinformation around about psychiatric treatments (but most of that is perpetuated by the psychiatric profession and the pharmaceutical industry not by the public). I believe stigma comes mainly from misunderstanding the human condition.
Personally I think both campaigns are a little immature too (and perhaps misguided) and they seem to appeal mostly to a very young demographic of teenagers, which is kind of worrying considering psychiatric drugs are particularly dangerous in these age groups (the SSRI antidepressants like Seroxat can cause increases in suicide and self harm). I don’t think that setting people up into pro and anti-med camps helps anyone either to be honest. I have nothing against anyone taking medication, I took it myself (Seroxat) at one point, unfortunately I wasn’t warned of the horrible side effects at the time (that’s why I started this blog), but I am not against anyone who takes anti-depressants, and I fully respect anyone’s right to choose, and I always have. I’m not even anti-medication, however I believe that doctors and pharmaceutical companies don’t warn adequately about the side effects, and many people are misinformed, and the long term damage can be harrowing for many people.
I understand though that this campaign is giving vulnerable people a sense of validation and empowerment though, and I respect that, however I would hate also to think that vulnerable people are being led up the garden path. Leading people to medication without warning them of the wide range of side effects and dangers is irresponsible.
The story of how ‘#Medicated And Mighty’ began was apparently from a blogger mother (of Mutha Lovin Authism blog) of an Autistic child who takes medication for depression and anxiety. The idea seemed to go viral on the internet over a week and has even made some major news network content.
However, perhaps this campaign isn’t as organic and wholesome as it appears?
It seems that the #medicated and mighty‘ campaign might have been (at least) encouraged by a well financed start up internet marketing company– called (you guessed it) –The Mighty
Enter The Mighty:
A content site based in Los Angeles designed for “a community of people who are thrown a curveball.” And today it’s announcing a $2.5 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures.
“…As for how the Mighty plans to bring in that revenue, Porath says they’ll be running ads from consumer brands and pharmaceutical companies...”
“....If you think about it from a pharmaceutical perspective, if they’re able to basically get a new client, someone who is using their drug. that person may use their drug for the next 20 years. That rate is much much higher than if you are selling soap.”…
I don’t think there is any shame in taking psychiatric medications, but people need to know the full dangers and they should be given informed consent about side effects, withdrawal symptoms etc. Furthermore, if this campaign was originally funded, or partly conceived, by a marketing company (linked to the Mighty website) then I think that people who are supporting this viral hashtag deserve to know that.
I am sure Erin probably had good intentions when she joined up with The Mighty website to spread her message about medications for mental illness and I’m sure she aimed to dispel the stigma and more power to her for that, but I can’t help thinking how this must have been a pharmaceutical company’s wet dream (and also a boon for the web site itself).
Was Erin used? Were we all set up against each other? Pro-med Vers Anti-med? (just for the record I am not anti-med, but I am anti-pharmaceutical lies).
Psychiatric medications are nothing to be ashamed of, however making these potentially dangerous and toxic drugs somehow cool, or trendy, is a bit worrying, in my opinion. I also find the premise of The Mighty website (which aims to profit off human interest stories about health) a little bit creepy (particularly after reading the article at the bottom of this post).
Furthermore, I would be concerned that this ‘pro medication’ viral campaign came shorty after the headline news that Paxil harms kids more than we were led to believe, and also the news recently that medications like Paxil (and SSRI’s in general) can make young people much more prone to violence.
Here’s the article anyhow ( from May 2015) which explains much more about what The Mighty are all about:
How health site “The Mighty” thinks it can build the next big content platform without selling its soul to Facebook
When Mike Porath’s daughter was diagnosed with a chromosome disorder that includes autism and other challenges, he spent a lot of time on WebMD.
“But WebMD didn’t cover the day-to-day challenges and the emotional side,” said Porath. There was no digital equivalent, he felt, to the indispensable routine of talking to other families that are going through the same thing. And so with a CV that includes being editor-in-chief at AOL, an executive at SpinMedia, and a journalist for the New York Times and NBC News, Porath felt he had the content and platform chops to build the solution himself.
Enter The Mighty: A content site based in Los Angeles designed for “a community of people who are thrown a curveball.” And today it’s announcing a $2.5 million seed round led by Upfront Ventures.
The Mighty’s stories are produced by a small staff of journalists and a larger network of unpaid contributors, not unlike early iterations of Huffington Post and Bleacher Report. The pieces are made up primarily of personal essays, advice tips, and stories of inspiration: items on the homepage right now include, “I Have a Son With Autism and Don’t Know What’s Best For Him,” “The Secret Way I Get My Son With Special Needs To Brush His Teeth,” and “She’s 26, Lives With Williams Syndrome, and Has Her Own Successful Business.” And to give you an idea of how these stories are resonating, Porath says the site attracted 30 million visitors in its first year and 20 million over the last six months.
“For a long time I believed in contributor networks as a business model,” Porath said. “Why this works for us is we’re based on experiences and those are unique to individuals.” That means the contributions on the Mighty aren’t simply rewrites of the day’s news or embed posts of the most popular videos on Reddit or YouTube that any J-School intern could write. The content here is made up of truly unique stories readers can’t find anywhere else and that can’t be easily reaggregated by competitors.
The words “unpaid contributors,” however, should come as a red flag for many media observers. Sites that scale affordably on freely provided content — whether that means a social network like Facebook or a more traditional media site Bleacher Report — have rightly come under scrutiny. In the Mighty’s case, this concern is arguably amplified by the fact that these writers are in emotionally and financially vulnerable positions, and nobody wants to be accused of taking advantage of these contributors. But Porath argues that, unlike something like Bleacher Report where the contributors are aspiring journalists whose career is in writing, his contributors truly want to tell their stories on a platform that can amplify these pieces of content to large audiences. None of them have asked about payment, he says, and if any do ask about compensation, it’s in the form of charitable donations.
“Once we have revenue we can start distributing that to non-profits where a percentage of the revenue can flow back into the non-profit of [the writer’s] choice.”
As for how the Mighty plans to bring in that revenue, Porath says they’ll be running ads from consumer brands and pharmaceutical companies.
“Health brings in much higher ad rates,” Porath says, explaining how WebMD has been able to achieve the same revenues as sites with far greater traffic. After all, a reader on a story about a very specific disorder is likely in a very specific market for health products. “If you think about it from a pharmaceutical perspective, if they’re able to basically get a new client, someone who is using their drug. that person may use their drug for the next 20 years. That rate is much much higher than if you are selling soap.”
Along with the issue of unpaid contributors, there’s another concern about I have about the Mighty: Accuracy. If an unpaid contributor at, say, Buzzfeed writes a misinformed article about Buffy the Vampire Slayer there’s no harm except maybe to Sarah Michelle Gellar’s pride. But if an unpaid contributor at the Mighty writes about, I don’t know, vaccines, and communicates misinformation, is there an editorial process in place to catch any outright falsehoods?
Porath assures me that nothing goes on the site without first being factchecked by his editorial staff, which he plans to expand with the new seed round. That’s reassuring, though it’s worth noting that when it comes to health stories, even an outlet as prestigious and well-respected as the New York Times makes mistakes.
Concerns aside, Porath’s model is undoubtedly compelling: A passionate community of readers and writers, a vertical that brings in ad dollars as higher rates than others, and content that can’t be found anywhere else. Porath is so confident that he’s not striking the devil’s bargain with Facebook that so many other content properties have struck.
“Many other sites are paying Facebook to boost stories to get traffic. We are not. As we grow, we’re becoming less dependent on Facebook.”
Hey, if the Mighty can show a provable content model without being beholden to Facebook, that will be a boon in and of itself.