Lives of Two Hashtags: How Can Mental Illness Compete?

Posted on July 25, 2012 by


Twitter has its fingers on the pulse of the nation, on the ‘what’s-hot-what’s-not’ ongoings in the world of the web.

So, using’s software, I checked out how frequently the hashtag ‘#mentalillness’ occurred on Twitter in the past month.

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The numbers seemed low to me–alarmingly low, given the depth and breadth of the problem with mental illness in this country, and beyond.

So I went and checked out one of the very few pop stars I happen to have heard of, none other than Ms. Miley Cyrus (born in 1992, as if that should be allowed). For those of you, like me, who hardly have a clue about modern-day pop icons, and haven’t since the Rolling Stones rolled into town, Ms. Cyrus is an American actress and pop singer, and achieved inordinate fame for acting in a Disney Channel show called Hannah Montana. [Is that more than you needed to know?]

My worst suspicions about where our priorities are as a society were confirmed, as you’ll see in the Life of #MileyCyrus below:

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So, to get this perfectly straight, #mentalillness had 226 appearances on its peak day in the past month, and 3532 appearances overall.

I guess it sounds kind of alright.

Until you realize that #MileyCyrus received 865 appearances on her peak day, and–ready for this?–16,108 appearances overall in the past month.

Usually I have a  lot to say about topics, and can get myself worked up enough to spout some pretty lengthy verbiage.

Here. . .the numbers have silenced me.

But when I start to wonder why it’s so difficult to get insurance coverage for mental health issues, I can remind myself that we as a society are vastly much more interested in Miley Cyrus than in the plight of the mentally ill. Well over 4 and a half times more interested, in the past month alone.

You’d more quickly get coverage for a Miley Cyrus obsession than you would for maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder.

It doesn’t make me feel proud. (Although Ms. Cyrus’s parents must be glowing. And who could blame them?)

I’m off to write a brilliant tweet with the hasthag #mentalillness. If I keep it up at a steady rate, and Ms. Cyrus’s fame eventually wanes, the numbers of hasthags both receive might even out in, say, 2089. I’ll keep you posted.