What Is Four Finger Sideways in Selfies Mental Health?

Last Updated On: November 29th, 2022

It’s said that one in every four people, is suffering from a mental health problem. To spread awareness, people have come up with various campaigns, including hashtags like #1in4 and four-finger sideways selfies.

But what is four fingers sideways in selfies' mental health? This is a part of the movement to bring attention to mental health problems. The campaign was started by BBC Three on April 18, 2017, to tackle stigma and spread awareness. It also aimed at educating people on the importance of opening up.

Raising awareness can encourage people to talk openly and reduce stigma. The article covers more about the four-finger sideways selfies and other ways to spread mental health awareness.

Mental Health

What Is Four Finger Sideways in Selfies Mental Health?

Good mental health means a person is in a state of well-being and can cope with normal life stress. Without positive mental health, the person cannot manage stress and finds it difficult to think and feel. While some people are unaware of their mental health, most fear speaking out.

The main reason most people fear is the stigma related to mental illness. They feel ashamed since mental health problems can display them as weak and vulnerable. Thus, speaking out to the wrong person can end up hurting instead of helping.

And the four fingers sideways selfie is a movement in the campaign against stigma related to mental health. In this campaign organized by BBC three, various artists, songsters, and comedy gurus posted their pictures holding up four fingers.

The campaign was launched on April 18th, 2017, as part of the Minds Matter season. It was supported by various celebrities, including:

1.  Actor Tom Hardy

2. Actress Kristen Bell

3.  Scottish actor David Tennant

These celebrities held up four fingers in their selfies, highlighting 1 out of 4 of those affected by mental health.

However, the four-finger sideways sign is not always used to spread awareness, especially if it doesn't have the hashtag #1in4. It is also a gang sign used in Florida to represent hood or block. Further, it is common in a football game to call for maximum effort in the fourth quarter.

What Other Ways Can You Spread Awareness About Mental Health?

Spreading awareness encourages people with mental health problems to speak up and seek help. Also, sharing the symptoms can help those unaware of the problem realize it. Following are various ways you can spread awareness of mental health.

1. Talk openly about mental health

The main fear for those suffering from mental health problems is stigmatization. They fear their friends will despise them or think less of them. So when you speak up, you encourage these people to open up and talk.      

2. Learn about the symptoms and signs

Some people with mental health problems are unaware they are affected. This condition is called Anosognosia, a neurological condition where the affected person doesn’t know their psychiatric state.

Educating yourself on the symptoms and mental health problems can help you realize when you're affected. The common symptoms and signs include:

  • Difficulties when thinking
  • Disconnection with reality
  • Fear and paranoia
  • Too much sensitivity to noise, light, or touch
  • Constant sadness
  • Uncontrollable emotions
  • Withdrawal from friends and family

3. Be compassionate and kind

Avoid words that can negatively affect a person with mental health problems. Also, avoid words like “psycho”, “wacko”, and “loony” which people use when referring to mentally challenged people. These words can demoralize the affected people and promote stigma.

4. Volunteer in awareness events

Volunteering at awareness events has a great impact on people with mental health problems. You can participate locally by attending an event or online by sharing the events. Similarly, you can also encourage your online friends to take part in these events.

Each year, the 10th of October is world mental health day. This event has been since 1992, and it's a day set aside to educate people on mental health problems. 

5. Do a mental health screening

If you suspect you have a mental health problem or your friend does, you can encourage them to take a screening test. Some mental health screening tests are done online on various government and health websites.

After the test, it’s best to share results online to encourage other people to take the test. After showing people screening is normal and everybody should do it, you'll encourage more people and spread awareness.

What Are the Advantages of Raising Mental Health Awareness?

Research shows that every year, more than 43 million people are affected by a type of mental health disorder. Only half of the affected people seek professional help, while others seek help after ten years. Raising awareness encourages affected people to seek help on time, before irreversible damage.

Other advantages include;

  • Reduced Stigmatization

The major advantage of raising mental health awareness is that the community embraces the affected people. People learn the differences between mental health problems and insanity and can provide help to the affected.

Also, by openly talking, people with mental health problems feel more comfortable while asking for help. This increases the number of people treated and reduces the chances of irreversible conditions.

  • Education On Mental Health

The awareness creates a chance for people to learn about the symptoms and signs of mental health problems. Affected people who hadn’t realized they had a problem become aware and seek help. Thus, people can avoid things that can encourage mental health problems, like stress.

Besides, awareness educates people about the words they should avoid while interacting with or referring to affected people. This encourages more people to come out and seek help without fear of judgment.

  • More Resources and Facilities

Raising awareness also encourages investors to invest in mental health facilities, like mental health hospitals. This allows more affected people to access the psychiatric care they need and improves the possibilities of recovery.

Awareness also attracts sponsors who can fund recovery programs, like 12-step programs. With funded programs, more people are educated and treated.   


With almost a quarter of the population suffering from a type of mental health problem, spreading awareness is crucial. The Four Finger Sideway selfie is a movement against mental health stigma. This campaign also encouraged affected people to speak up and seek help.

While this campaign was one way of spreading awareness, there are other ways. That includes learning, volunteering, and taking part in mental health screening.

Likewise, raising mental health awareness has many advantages, including reducing stigma and encouraging investors to invest in mental health facilities

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