Doctor Uses Instagram To Start Mental Health Conversation

By David Konow 01/22/19

Dr. Jessica Clemons has launched an Instagram page aimed at helping those in need of mental health care.

Dr. Jessica Clemons
Photo via Instagram

These days a lot of people are reaching out through social media to talk about mental health, whether they’re world famous celebrities or everyday people who want to share their difficulties and ask for help.

Now Forbes reports that a psychiatrist named Dr. Jessica Clemons is using social media to not only help open up the conversation on mental health but to also guide people on where and how to get help.

Dr. Clemons’ Instagram page has over 40,000 followers, and she also appeared on a VH1 special, In Session: Live with Dr. Jess, where she did a therapy session live. (Another therapist who has done live therapy sessions, in this case with celebrities, is Dr. Siri Sat Nam Singh, who did a widely seen talk with Katy Perry in 2017.)

Dr. Clemons told Forbes, “I’m really happy my work in mental health gives me the opportunity to take care of people when they need it the most. I think having compassion and the ability to empathize with people is my gift. And I use it to remind people, who may be feeling like they’re suffering mentally, that they are not the summation of the negative things that have happened to them. I remind people that they are not their pain and that they have access to love.”

In launching @askDrJess, Dr. Clemons said attending therapy herself inspired her to have a social media presence. “I had this idea to try to normalize conversations about mental health . . . I remember the day when Instagram debuted the feature where you could post a poll. People had already started asking me things about anxiety . . . I’d done a lot of group work where I’d lead discussions that were also teaching people. So I thought I’d give it a try on Instagram. I posted the poll and 90 percent of people said they wanted to learn more about anxiety.”

While therapy is a private experience, Dr. Clemons didn’t feel reservations about being public on social media. “Using social media, I found ways to connect and talk about things that are real. So I just kept doing it and it felt natural.” Dr. Clemons’ husband also encouraged her to do a live stream every weekend, then “before I knew, eight or nine months had passed and people are still tuning in.”

Where Dr. Clemons does one-on-one therapy with her clients during the week, her weekend live streams “feel like a group experience. It’s not group therapy, by any means, but there is this shared sense of empathy . . . And when they share, there’s this feeling that the group gets to share some of the burden. . . .  I’m there as the expert but people also use each other as support.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.