Millie Bobby Brown is completely right; activism IS good for our mental health

It can boost your self-esteem and make a real difference to society.

21 May 2019

GLAMOUR digital cover star Millie Bobby Brown told us she became an activist after being bullied at school, realising the importance of harnessing her own voice now. Millie’s inspirational take offers a way to cheerlead yourself and others, while championing a vital cause. With climate anxiety on the rise and social media impacting upon our mental health, just how does activism affect the mind?

Young Minds is a charity focused on improving young people’s mental health and fighting to empower our voices into the future. Their work offers a supportive lifeline for young people with mental health issues, as well as creating campaigns which they credit with making a crucial difference. Sarah Faithfull, from the Youth Engagement team explains: “Most of our activists have personal experience of mental health problems, and many say that campaigning for change has a direct benefit for their mental health.”

Calling on the government, presenting high profile ambassadors and teaming up with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Young Minds show us the evidence that activism can be good for our mental health. For anybody who’s ever felt like their voice hasn’t been heard or had thoughts dismissed or even invalidated, activism is a positive way of channelling that frustration. Interlinking the importance of both your mental health and valuable causes, activism is a positive move for millennials.

And before you get overwhelmed about where to start, as explained by activist Kate Baldwin (@KateBalders on Twitter), “Activism can be anything from making a conscious product purchase, choosing which musicians you listen to, or articulating your concerns on a blog or social media.” Stressing the relevance of choosing the best form of expression for you, Kate highlights, “In a world where we are bombarded by images and ideas, sometimes it’s hard to know what to think. Yet we often feel like we should have all the answers. Being able to make a stand about an issue- no matter how big or small, public or private- can be a great way to focus on what’s of personal importance and feel like you’re making a difference.” She does warn though, that the internet can be hostile at times, “and it’s essential to always put your personal wellbeing first”.

A way to meet likeminded people, and connect on a social level, activism continues to be big news for our generation. Social activist Greta Thunberg’s rallying cry is testament to that, with waves being felt around the world. If you’re interested in becoming an activist, Mindset Coach Wendy O’Beirne (@thecompletioncoach on Instagram) advises, “Look to hear more about what people have to say locally and get involved in campaigns that have meaning to you. We single-handedly cannot clear the ocean, for example, but we can change our own habits, which matters.”

Having that awareness of being in control of your own voice and choices brings a big self-esteem boost - and while we’re not saying activism is a quick mental health fix, it could offer a positive outlet.

Wendy continues, “the small things we do ourselves will impact how we see change and ultimately, if we get involved, can cause a ripple effect. That can take you from feeling powerless to making a small change. If we make a small change, the ripple effect grows as does your sense of power.” She also recommends “instead of feeling as if the whole world is on our shoulders, actively looking to be part of your immediate neighbourhood and communities”. Because as Wendy says, “this can help improve our own mental health, and also, highlight the needs of others”.

Meaning you feel less isolated in turn, whether you care most about the climate, government legislation or equality, looking at the bigger picture can be an altruistic salve. Sarah finishes, reiterating, “Working together with other people who’ve been through the same thing, feeling like you have a voice, and using your own experience to help others can boost your self-esteem and make a real difference to society.”