'The Internet's Best Friend': TikTok Comedian Gets Laughs While Raising Mental Health Awareness
Making people laugh isn't the only thing Elyse Myers does. She's also bringing large-scale awareness to mental health struggles.
Taylor LeameySenior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
ExpertiseBachelor of Science, Psychology and SociologyCredentials
The negative effects of social media can be substantial. But then again, so can the positive ones. A 2019 study found that routine social media use is associated with improved social wellbeing, positive mental health and self-rated health. This suggests that social media can be a good thing if you're an intentional and mindful user.
Social media can be a powerful tool for expressing yourself, bringing awareness to social issues and sharing compelling stories that resonate with your audience. Enter Elyse Myers, a comedian who uses platforms like TikTok and Instagram to share stories (like her infamous date where she bought 100 tacos), to make people laugh and to talk about her mental health. In a world of filters that give you bunny ears, there is Myers. She has become a staple of authenticity and honesty that people look to; she's even lending her expertise to events like a mental health panel at VidCon next month.
I had the chance to sit down and talk to Myers about how she uses access to 5.3 million followers across platforms to normalize things like anxiety, depression and self-care.
Social media can be used to talk about important topics
In the last few years, especially with the rising popularity of TikTok, social media has become a prominent tool for discussing important topics -- including mental health. If you've scrolled through Instagram or TikTok, you've probably come across Myers and her trademark "Great question, I would love to tell you." Her approachability and passion for bringing attention to topics like anxiety and depression with her storytelling have earned her the title of "The internet's best friend."
For Myers, using her platforms to cover these topics came about naturally, she said. "I never really like woke up one day and thought, you know what, today I'm going to talk about my depression. It just naturally kind of happened because it's something that I'm so passionate about," Myers said.
"The more we can casually drop it into our conversations and not apologize for it, I think that that's a really powerful thing, and I think that more people need to do that," she added.
She described a journey of being more open and intentional with her platform over time. Besides making people laugh, she wanted to destigmatize normal (yet sensitive) things many people live with. And it turned out that people connected to her and what she had to say.
"Early on, I was talking about my anxiety and social anxiety. I think I was more pointed with my conversations when I realized that not a lot of people are doing it online and people really resonated with it. I just was so encouraged that people were encouraged by my videos talking about mental health."
You can create and engage in a meaningful community
Social media isn't just a place to bring awareness to things; it's also a place to build and engage in a community. Myers took the time to cultivate connections with her viewers. "I have made a huge point of being very active in my comments and creating community. It's really important for me to not just create content dumping on people that are consuming it and walking away. I don't do that in real life, and I don't want to do that online," she said.
Many have latched onto the positivity Myers offers, which has led to a remarkable community that celebrates mental health and healthy boundaries. The comment sections of her videos, which she described as "overwhelmingly positive," have become a place to connect, share stories and encourage others. And make real change in their lives.
"I've had people share with me that because I have been so open to talking about my mental health, they've found a therapist for the first time in their life. Or that they have told their families that they've been struggling with certain mental illnesses or addictions," Myers said.
Communities can be a really powerful thing, both on and off social media. Myers shared an anecdote about a group of Patreon subscribers who "fell in love with being friends" and threw one woman a virtual baby shower. They met through Myers' Patreon, and their friendship developed past casual commenters and into clicking "I'll be there" on an e-invite.
But you'll have to manage the negativity
With the good comes the bad -- and there's plenty of negativity on social media. Even with the success stories and actual friendships she has helped grow, nasty comments have been a part of the process. Myers described her experience of becoming "less of a person" to some as her platforms grew.
"I think that people originally, when my content started coming out, still saw me as a whole person and that it was a person behind the videos," Myers shared. "As my followers have grown, as my influence has grown a little bit and my presence online has grown, people have gotten more comfortable with the fact that maybe I won't see all of the comments." And so they may feel more free to say negative things.
Myers is a comedian with millions of people viewing her content. So, yes, she may get more negativity than most, but those experiences are not limited to influencers on the internet. Not seeing each other as people on social media is a mindset that can be damaging. Comparing yourself with others can lower your self-esteem and damage how you view yourself.
With filters and social media algorithms, it's easy to forget that the person on your screen is a real person. Managing the uncertainty others bring to social media or how it can potentially negatively affect you is difficult. However, we can all start by viewing each other as people, not products or things or images we'll never live up to.
Tips to make sure social media doesn't bring you down
It's essential to know your limits with social media. For Myers, who uses social media as part of her job, it's sometimes hard to separate it. Myers shared that the negativity she receives is sometimes hard to ignore. "It's been pretty difficult. It really has weighed on my mental health, the last couple of months, but I'm trying really hard to not engage with it."
Use these tips to help recognize when social media is becoming a negative influence on your mental health.
Don't just post because you feel like you need to
No matter how you use social media -- for your job or recreationally -- sometimes there is pressure to post. How else will your followers know what's going on with you?
"A lot of the time you'll see somebody have initial success, and people are amped and then they feel like they have to repeat that same success over and over and over and over again, or they will become irrelevant," Myers said.
Myers suggests that you shouldn't create or post out of desperation just to get something out there. When you use social media a lot and become emotionally dependent on the feedback you get, it can worsen symptoms of anxiety or depression. Don't treat yourself like a content mill that has to post to get likes. Social media is at its best when it's a supplement to your lifestyle, not everything.
"When I feel that pressure, that's when I feel the most burnt out, the most tired, the most resentful [toward] my audience, [toward] my job. And that's not healthy for my content, but it definitely isn't healthy for me, as a person, as a mom, as a wife, as a friend," Myers said.
Define your red flags and take a step back when you need to
This one seems obvious, but it can be one of the hardest to nail down. Being able to identify red flags for your mental health can help you take a step back from social media. Whether it is worsening feelings of anxiety or depression or feeling disconnected from those around you, there will be signs that you need to take a break. Check in on yourself and be intentional about noticing patterns in your mood, how you feel and the quality of sleep you're getting. This will help determine when you need to step away or take a digital detox.
Don't forget what social media can do
Social media doesn't have to be a place where you only display your best self. And it doesn't have to be a place where you engage with negative comments. When used intentionally, social media can be a really good thing.
Myers uses it to make people laugh and talk about mental health, but you can keep up with old friends, connect with others or even find new ways to decorate your living room. Social media can be a powerful way to bring awareness about issues and connect with others, but using it should never be at the expense of your mental wellbeing.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.