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Why did Instagram started sending me mental health ads?

Because a client sent me a text.

By Blake A SwanPublished about a year ago 3 min read
Why did Instagram started sending me mental health ads?
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

We’ve all had that moment. Having a conversation around our phones and suddenly there’s an ad for the thing we were just talking about. We’re told that there’s a logical explanation for it. Skimming through our phones, there were ads for Snickers, and that’s why we were talking about Snickers. You just realized it today. Don’t be paranoid!

Considering the amount of information we filter daily, that’s plausible. However, what happened to me today has no simple explanation.

Keeping Client Conversations Confidential

As a strength coach and personal trainer, my clients can get... well... personal. Working in the medical setting, I know when an athlete faces the end of their athletic career, it can be devastating. A significant injury might take away your only outlet for expression temporarily or permanently.

Part of my job is to guide clients, young and old, through the recovery and performance process. The journey is long and lonely. “Can I make it? Will I ever be the same?... What’s the point?”

Having an and honest and private conversation was crucial to helping those clients believe in themselves. Talking to me meant you could express their fears without feeling judged.

Always One Call Away

This morning was one of those occasions. A client that has become like a daughter to me messaged me. Originally it was a text. Seeking privacy, they switched to an app that made them feel like we were having a private conversation. No, it wasn’t Instagram.

Long story short, a teammate was in a crisis and getting the help they needed. We discussed the realities of life surrounding mental health issues. Gave her the insights I could as a mentor, friend, and the child of a social worker.

After our conversation, another message came through. A funny video was sent to me on Instagram. One of my other clients spreading some joy, much appreciated. Yet, my entire timeline was filled with ads for Better Help.

By Jeremy Bezanger on Unsplash

New Ads. Not a Coincidence.

Nothing against that company or their services, but I never got ads from them. The first ad I got was so specific to me it was insane. My age, gender, race, and interest in gaming all came into perfect avatars that casually stopped playing to announce three out of the four were in therapy.

My normal ads: Music, Writing, Teaching, Video Games, Master Courses, Digital Marketing, Personal Training, Fitness Equipment, and Food.

Never had an ad from Better Help crossed my feed. Yet, on the morning that someone reached out to me to discuss their friend’s crisis, even four hours later it’s all I see. Not only from the company but also influencer ads sponsored by Better Help.

We don’t live in the era of privacy. Face IDs, fingerprint scans, text messages and phone conversations, our location, hell, people are even tracking people with AirTags.

Is it too much to ask that companies don’t go through text on every app for ads?

Especially with a topic as sensitive as mental health. Beyond throwing the face that I have no privacy in my face, what am I supposed to do with this information?

"Hey, Instagram, read all of your messages. They think your friend should leave their current care for this privatized one. Thank you for your trust."

We all know the reality. Our phones are spying on us for data. The companies with vested interest use that data to make life more convenient. Unless they get the wrong information. Instead of a friendly reminder to pick up some groceries, it’s trying to sell you a casket whenever you take parents to visit the doctor.

By Dex Ezekiel on Unsplash

Ruh-Roh is right.

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About the Creator

Blake A Swan

NCSA Strength and Conditioning Professional certified as a CSCS, TSAC-F, and CPT. I have my FMS Certification as well, and spent over a decade working with athletes in various sports. Including youth, high school, college, Olympic and Pro.

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