I’ve recently been getting a lot of targeted ads for Hers. It’s an online service that allows women to fill out a questionnaire and receive antidepressants and antianxiety medication through the mail. I have so many issues with this.
1. Only women get anxious and depressed? The depiction of only women in these ads contributes to the stigma of mental health and discourages men from getting the help they need. Men are 3.5x more likely to take their own life. Men are anxious. Men are depressed. A lot.
2. Offering medication that alters your brain without therapy is like putting a wet band aid on an open wound. Yeah – it will work for a bit but that wound isn’t going to heal. Medication is an amazing tool to help you access a comfortable place to learn skills to cope with situations sans medication. While medication helps, it doesn’t remove the obstacles. And yes – some people will always need medication to feel in control even with skills – but they will continue to struggle without being able to access skills alongside their medication.
3. The Hers brand also has a “Hims” department. Can you guess the number one ailment pushed over there? Yep. Performance pills for the bedroom. Because what kind of man would you be if you’re not performing perfectly in the bedroom (I had sarcasm once)? I looked around the site and discovered that they do indeed offer mood stabilizing medications for men as well but are not prioritizing it.
4. I get that this is a business and the marketing department has to find a way to grab the attention of their target market. They obviously know this lady (me) is depressed and anxious. Yet the fact that there is no mention of WHY they are choosing to advertise to women and men separately is downright offensive. And how they are marketing antianxiety and antidepressants to men is gross and downright irresponsible. Are men supposed to feel vulnerable enough to seek out performance pills then come across antidepressants and say “throw those in too!”?
5. Hers has acquired Kristen Bell as a spokesperson. I listen to her husband’s (Dax Shepard) podcast, Armchair Expert, on a regular basis. Kristen has been a guest several times and has discussed how she utilizes meds to stabilize her mood. She has also been a big proponent of therapy. It’s disappointing that she would use her influence in this way knowing the dangers of improper medication. One of the biggest dangers of mood stabilizing drugs is coming off of them. Without the careful care of a doctor, a person could very easily use their medications incorrectly. One of the side effects of antidepressants is increased suicidal ideation. A doctor that only knows what little you have told them about your history on an online questionnaire is not qualified to prescribe such dangerous medications. Kristen Bell knows this. So why is she putting so many people in harm’s way by promoting a service that doesn’t give a flip about the people it is serving?
Our mental health is in crisis. From Abilene Christian University Online:
“The statistics are startling. Between 2007 and 2019, adolescents reporting a major depressive episode increased 60 percent. Tragically, during a similar time frame, the suicide death rate among 10–24 year olds increased 56 percent. This issue isn’t confined to young people. In 2020, anxiety and depression increased globally by 25 percent. Depression and anxiety rates exploded so rapidly that, at the end of 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General declared a “devastating” national mental health crisis.”
For those that are able to have control of their mental health, it’s our responsibility to make the noise that is needed to ensure mental health for all. We can do this by speaking against dangerous campaigns like Hers and Hims. By holding those in positions of influence accountable, like Kristen Bell. And by donating resources (time and money) to institutions fighting for change. I suggest starting at a local level. I have listed some National Orgs as well as those local to Wisconsin below.
National Alliance on Mental Health
Milwaukee County Mental Health