AfterParty Hero: The YouTube Star Talking about Mental Illness
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AfterParty Hero: The YouTube Star Talking about Mental Illness


This post was originally published on February 23, 2015.

Most 21-year-old’s are either getting wasted or trying to figure out how they can get their next lay, so it’s pretty bitchin’ that the handsome English lads behind the YouTube channel JacksGap are making videos for worthy causes. The twin brothers have been posting stuff since 2011, and, not surprisingly, 88% of their fan base are hormone-crazed teenage girls.

They’ve racked up over four million subscribers, all in the name of simply “doing good.”

Hitting the Jack-pot

Jack posted a video called “Let’s Talk About Mental Illness” where he sets the story straight on what shouldn’t be a muddied topic to begin with. Though he’s just 21, the charming Brit presents some solid arguments on how the stigma of mental illness keeps people feeling alone and hesitant to get treatment. It’s a ludicrous catch-22—people are already messed up from their depression, mania, anxiety or schizophrenia, but then they feel even worse by hiding the truth from even the closest people around them for fear of being ostracized.

“From what I’ve seen, more often than not, people dealing with a mental illness find it harder to deal with the stigma than they do the mental illness itself,” he said. “And that is crazy because the stigma is created by us.”

Jack says a friend recently confided in him about her depression and how alone she felt, and he admits that he has suffered from similar feelings. He decided to poll all of his friends to see if they’ve had similar experiences, and every single person he asked said yes, they’ve suffered from depression.

Of course having occasional depression is not the same as chronic and debilitating major depression, but what the hell. We’ll give him kudos for getting the point across, and he is a YouTube star, not a shrink.

The Perfect Spokesperson for Our Time

“Mental illnesses are a thing,” he says. “They are real.”

And it’s a damn good thing he said it—plenty of people out there are actually stupid and ignorant and insensitive enough to discount science and say it’s “all in your head.” Often the people who say mental illness isn’t real are simply jerkoffs who never experienced it.

“I know that my heart is an organ like my brain is an organ,” he says. So why don’t we treat them the same?”

It’s a good question. No one screams “Big Pharma, Big Pharma, Big Pharma!” when diabetics shoot themselves with insulin or when epileptics take anti-seizure pills (okay, I’m sure there are some people who do, but there will always be conspiracy theorists). Despite the awareness that has been circling around mental illness, there’s still tons of backlash from people who think the disorders are just fabrications for doctors and the pharmaceutical industry to rake in the change.

Tell that to a schizophrenic or severely depressed individual—it won’t go over very well.

Jack’s Right

“This year should be the year we talk about it and it should start on the Internet,” Jack says.

Over the years, we’ve seen huge civil rights movements that have shattered everything from racial inequality to LGBTQ inequality to gender inequality, and thank God. But more awareness is needed on mental health, and more people should be talking about it. The more we talk, the lower the stigma, and the more free suffers will feel to get help.

So many addicts and alcoholics are dual-diagnosis (anecdotally, nearly every sober friend I have is taking some form of psych meds). Many times, these meds work in conjunction with therapy, 12-step programs or other tools to keep our heads screwed on straight enough that we don’t drink or use again.

So bravo, Jack, I give you five million YouTube Likes.

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

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About Author

Tracy Chabala is a freelance writer for many publications including the LA Times, LA Weekly, Smashd, VICE and Salon. She writes mostly about food, technology and culture, in addition to addiction and mental health. She holds a Master's in Professional Writing from USC and is finishing up her novel.