Online mental health service Pride Counselling has been accused of exploiting mental health sufferers through ‘crass’ adverts on social media
The counselling service of Better Help was called ‘offensive’ for its social campaigns, targeting mental health sufferers in the LBGTI community.
One advert shows a distressed man sitting in a pool of rainbow tears adorned with the words ‘it gets better’.
Another features tearful gay men being told to ’embrace’ themselves.
Videos also showed LGBTI people ‘meeting themselves’ in the future.
Speaking to Pink News, social media user Ellen said she was rejected by the service when she was in a time of crisis.
‘Mental health counselling adverts’ kept appearing on feed
The rejection was contrary to the advertising as Ellen’s case ‘wasn’t worthy enough and they wouldn’t be able to help’.
‘[I] was going through a bit of a rough time – nothing to do with LGBTQ or sexuality issues – and it came up on my feed … and I thought I’d go for it because [I had] nothing to lose.’
After receiving her initial rejection Ellen said she accepted the decision and moved on.
But adverts kept appearing on her feed promoting a service that she was unable to use.
‘But then like it came up on my Instagram feed again, and I was kind of confused because they said they had such a huge demand and declined counselling me yet were still trying to get people to come to them for counselling.’
In 2017, a Twitter user wrote: ‘We need to talk bout Pride Counselling’s exploitative FB and Instagram adverts.’
‘Over 100 different ads that promote Pride Counselling’
Better Help founder Alon Matas said that company will look to learn from the criticisms.
‘We welcome feedback and always look to improve the relevance and connection with individuals who can benefit from our service.’
The company says it isn’t responsible for marketing output due to outsourcing campaigns to external contractors.
‘There are more than 100 different ads that promote Pride Counselling – some by us and some by other partners who independently promote the service,’ he said.
Matos also denied that the service was free, as assumed by some complainants.
‘We make it very clear that it offers long-term counseling provided by professional licensed therapists.’
Better Help has 150,000 registered UK users, while the Pride Counseling therapy app has 3.5 stars on the Google Play store.
Gay Star News has approached Pride Counselling for comment.