Martha Kalifatidis is being held to account again after a resurfaced Instagram Story showed the influencer suggesting vitamins stopped her from “[checking herself] into a psych ward”.
**Content Warning: This article discusses mental health and may be distressing to some readers.
In March, the former Married at First Sight bride-turned-reality star copped criticism en masse after sharing an Instagram Story in which she said the N-word multiple times while singing along to Nicki Minaj‘s Only.
Now, one of the influencer’s followers has raised the flag on another “disturbing” and “unethical” post in which Martha advertised JS Health vitamins.
The Instagram Story, which is believed to have been posted in early March, showed the 33-year-old spruiking the brand’s “Stress + Anxiety” tablets.
However, her endorsement came with the implication that these vitamins can be used as a substitute for mental health support.
“Last week I was ready to check myself into a psych ward,” she wrote. “Doing better thanks to the Stress + Anxiety [vitamins].”
Imploring viewers to “see the next slide”, Martha posted a link to the product alongside a screenshot of the JS Health storefront.
“You know I’ve got you covered for a discount,” she penned with the inclusion of an exclusive 24-hour promotional code.
What Did Martha’s Followers Say About the Post?
In response to coverage that Martha was being called out for her use of the N-word, one fan told So Dramatic! she was shocked that the influencer’s “insensitive” endorsement hadn’t been addressed.
“I’m surprised no one has flagged her Instagram stories from a couple weeks ago about the pretty disturbing, unethical and insensitive way she advertised the JS Health Stress + Anxiety tablets,” she wrote.
She continued: “It’s unethical and misleading to claim that a ‘stress and anxiety’ vitamin will have the same effect as professional help if your mental health is as bad as she said.”
“If you’re ‘ready to check yourself into a psych ward’, you should not be setting up vulnerable people to believe something so unrealistic about the performance of the product.”
Adding that it’s “gross” to use “insensitive and deceptive language” in the promotion of the vitamins, the follower said the issue is made worse by the fact that Martha is “getting paid to profit off people’s poor mental health”.
Martha’s Post Violates Social Media Advertising Guidelines
According to the Australian Government’s Department of Health, vitamins are classed as a therapeutic goods and therefore come with consumer protections, especially when it comes to them being advertised.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) states that influencers must “not claim that a product can diagnose, treat or cure a serious condition” when promoting products pertaining to individuals’ health.
Based on the wording of Martha’s JS Health promotion, the Instagram Story is in violation of the social media code put forward by the TGA.
The TGA’s guidelines also state that “therapeutic goods should be chosen on the basis of clinical need, not through the persuasion of influencers”.
A Registered Psychologist Weighs In On the Implications Of Martha Kalifatidis’ Post
Registered psychologist Rachel Tomlinson of Toward Wellbeing told So Dramatic! that it’s “very concerning” when influencers make “sweeping statements” about mental health.
“Mental health and treatment are unique to a person and should take into account their history, diagnosis, current and past treatments, allergies, preferences,” she said. “This is the trouble with sweeping statements about ‘cures’ [on social media].
“They aren’t targeted or personalised which is very concerning when a large group receive this generalised or incorrect information and potentially try it, or forego evidence-based and research-based treatment discussed with a treating professional.”
Rachel added that there isn’t anything wrong with individuals making their own decisions about their personal mental health treatment.
However, “the issue is when this information is being recommended by someone who isn’t a relevant and appropriately qualified health professional.”.
Why Is Martha Kalifatidis’ Post Damaging?
Rachel also told So Dramatic! that mental health advice should be “high quality” and delivered by an “appropriately skilled” professional.
This allows support to be tailored to the individual. However, when posted on social media, such advice “runs the risk of harm”.
“It can be dangerous when people who have the trust of their followers make recommendations outside of their ‘wheelhouse’ and skill set,” Rachel said. “In addition, breaking down or simplifying mental health conditions or diagnosis as being cured by vitamins alone can be damaging to people who need genuine help.”
Accordingly, the implications of social media mental health advice can “devalue and invalidate the lived experience of a person with mental health issues”.
“It doesn’t acknowledge the lifelong struggles that many people face. It also doesn’t show the strength it takes for people to reach out and access support, or the work taken to break habits or built up strategies [and] skills to address their mental health.
“It also reduces the opportunity for people to explore and work through triggers or situations that impact their wellbeing to support their recovery now and into the future.”
So Dramatic! has reached out to both JS Heath and Martha for comment.
If you or anyone you know is struggling and needs support, call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14, both of which provide trained counsellors you can talk with 24/7. You can also speak with someone confidentially at Headspace by calling 1800 650 890 or chat online here. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
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