By DANA TETENBERG.

 

Mental health and self-care is often brushed under the matt in place of late nights, unhealthy food, and fun times with friends. In order to stay conscious about what we do to ourselves and our bodies, we may seek help from the one, the only: the internet.

But how important are these ‘pro’ tips we’re getting? Do they even work?

Beth Humphrey, a 19-year-old from Auckland, is putting internet wisdom to the test in a new YouTube series titled The Great Mental Health Experiment. I had a chat to Beth about her project.

 

Hi Beth! For everyone who doesn’t know by now, what is The Great Mental Health Experiment?

The Great Mental Health Experiment (#GMHX16) is a video web series by Live For Tomorrow, testing out different ways of improving mental health. And I’m the crash test dummy! We release a video every Tuesday, where I attempt self-care tips and rate them based on how well I think they have supported my mental health. Of course these are all my opinions and different things work for different people, but it’s an awesome way to start some cool conversations around mental health.

 

Is there a particular list you’re following?

We pick and choose from all over! All of the things we’re testing are based off what we already knew to be good for improving mental health, plus some cool ones I found in an article on Buzzfeed. I also learnt about some while researching DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) – ways of coping with distress.

 

Is there anything you’ve experienced and found particularly helpful for self-care that you haven’t found on any tip lists out there?

There are a lot of self help lists out there. The problem is, my instinct has often been to just read the list and think that will help me. It might seem obvious, but I’ve found it really helpful to actually test them out! Some things work for me (like animals and journaling) and some things don’t (like some distracting sensations, lemons and hot sauce). Again, kind of obvious, but being supported by good humans and friends is massive for me!

 

What inspired you to start GMHX?

Firstly, the young people I work with. When I first started this I had them in mind. It was a cool way to reach out to them in a relatable way. Also, it’s so easy to get caught up in checklists and the ‘ten easy things’ advice columns. Testing mental health and self care ideas was something that the team and I hadn’t seen before, so we thought it’d be interesting to put me through the pains and triumphs of an experiment to separate the myths from the truths. Plus, a video is way more interesting than a bunch of text.

 

People have been responding really well to your content. Did you expect for this to happen?

Not at all! I never thought my videos would reach as many people as they have. But I’m so incredibly grateful that they have. Not for my own personal gain, but because it helps normalise and start conversations around mental health. Mental health is something we all have and should be taking care of.

 

In one of your videos you mentioned that you’re studying youth and community. Why did you choose to study this and how has it impacted you so far?

There is a lot of history into how I got into youth work. Long story short, I think there has always been a calling for me to work in the social services. I have a heart to help others and am very much a people person. After I left school I was offered a youth work internship with Zeal West, a local youth hub I had been a part of for three years or so. Zeal (who helps me with the Great Mental Health Experiment) is my practical placement while I study my Diploma in Youth and Community Studies through Praxis. I have learnt some really amazing things from my studies, but I think the cool part is that it’s not only about how to be an amazing youth worker, but we also do a lot of study around self-care. I like that we are encouraged to journal about how we are feeling. It’s actually very good for the soul.

 

Why did you choose YouTube as a platform for GMHX?

YouTube wasn’t actually our original platform. When we started the GMHX our main focus was actually Facebook, then we also posted them on my YouTube channel as well. Then when my interview with Upworthy was released my YouTube channel blew up, which is awesome! As a young teen I always wanted to be a vlogger, so it’s pretty cool! YouTube is pretty great in the sense that all my videos are easily accessible and my fan base can get notifications when I upload stuff. And I’ve found the community really supportive.

 

You’re really good at balancing fact and seriousness with humour and fun. You also come across as very genuine, and these things make you really easy and nice to watch. What helps you achieve these aspects and why do you think they’re important to include?

This topic is danced around a lot. But I think people need to be able to talk about it in a real and normal way, rather than just hear facts and figures. From my experience mental health info can either be like “woah, this is too intense” or “woah, this is boring.” Keeping things fun and enjoyable to watch helps get this information out to people, and that’s what I want to do. As far as the way I present the videos, I’m a pretty out there personality and really enjoy acting and dance.

 

What do you want people to take out of GMHX?

I would like people to take note of the things they have found interesting and go give them a try! You won’t know what works for you unless you give it a go. Something I have learnt over the last year with my studies is that it is important to learn more about yourself and, more importantly, learn how to take care of yourself. So I hope that message reaches my fans in one way or another. Also I just want to put a smile on people’s faces. Because that’s all someone might need that day.

Check out The Great Mental Health Experiment on YouTube.

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