May 25, 2021#DepressionMeals promote mental health candour

Facebook group Depression Meals: Gone Wild is spotlighting the sad and often bizarre meals people resort to when they’re feeling low – things like cheese string and hot dog risotto. Eager to escape the pressures of the perfect 'Instagrammable' life, people are getting candid online about mental health.

Author
Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee

Yogurt and smarties. Microwaved mac and cheese with cucumber. These are some of the #depressionmeals making waves on social media. In the name of mental health, people are normalising these low-effort, unashamedly chaotic meals in the 100,000-member-strong private Facebook group Depression Meals: Gone Wild – a safe space for people to seek support without judgment. According to psychologist Lilly Sabir, depression often impacts eating habits. “Because our bodies feel emotionally hijacked by the instability produced by our hormones, our minds and bodies will look for the closest thing that allows it to bring joy," she says. "We need that dopamine kick, even if it's for a second, to feel we are surviving. So some of us turn to food to provide this emotional nourishment.”

Food is increasingly entering the wellbeing space, with snacking being seen as a form of self-care. But social media is also emerging as a safe space for young people seeking mental health refuge - a significant need for Britons, considering that half of 16- to 25-year-olds say their mental health has worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s not just by sharing #depressionmeals online that people are finding community. The @SickSadGirlz Instagram account makes space for women to share and support members with invisible illnesses, catering to people worldwide who are living with a chronic illness.

Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee is an artist, researcher, and writer based in London. Her practice centres on the politics and poetics of East and Southeast Asian art and critiques on knowledge production through decolonial thinking.

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