Top 10 | Best in Show: Instagram

The 2019 WEGO Health Awards turned out to be our biggest celebration yet! With over 6k nominations and 130k endorsements, we were able to celebrate more Patient Leaders than ever before.

The program celebrates the top 5 finalists in each of the 15 WEGO Health Awards categories, but with so many nominations, it’s nearly impossible to shine a bright light on all these deserving nominees! In hopes of recognizing even more nominees, we’ve compiled the Top 10 Patient Leaders in each category based on community endorsements.

WEGO Health Awards Best in Show: Instagram Award

These Top 10 Instagram Patient Leaders are leveraging the media sharing platform to raise awareness for their condition area. Through pictures, videos, and stories, these leaders are cultivating a community of support, transparency, and encouragement. For anyone looking to bring their advocacy to Instagram, these are the ones to watch for strategy, inspiration & engagement tactics!

@health_anxiety (Taylor Marae) | Mental Health Patient Leader

2019 Best in Show: Instagram Winner

Taylor Marae, registered dietitian in integrative and functional medicine, owner of the instagram account @health_anxiety and creator of @anxietytoolkit / After going to extreme panic disorder, health anxiety, depression and agoraphobia, Taylor found her way to recovery and made it her life goal to help others struggling with mental health issues feel less alone. During her worst anxiety days she felt so alone like no one understood, she made it her goal to never let someone else feel that way. Today, she freely speaks about her advocacy for mental health and has shaped her career around mental health. Now, gaining over 84,000 followers she is helping so many people feel less alone. Since, she has opened up Anxiety Toolkit which provides people with boxes full of anxiety fighting products to help find peace during your peak of panic.

Get to know the WEGO Health Awards winner and follow her on social.

@CarissaBarzee (Carissa Barzee) | Infertility Patient Leader

2019 Best in Show: Instagram Finalist

“My husband and I have been going through infertility for almost 5 years and we have shared it on social media for over 2 years. We have done multiple fertility treatments (meds & ti, IUI, and IVF). We have also experienced the heartbreak of child loss twice. Our biggest goal is to help others feel less alone, educate in the best way we can, while also sharing that you can still find joy in the journey. We are sooo grateful to have a platform and to be a voice for others.”

Want to get to know Carissa? Click here.

@TheCancerPatient | Cancer Patient Leader

2019 Best in Show: Instagram Finalist

This account offers a satirical look at life as a cancer patient. It’s relatable and funny memes bring much needed laughter to the challenges of a cancer patient journey.

Add @TheCancerPatient to your feeds.

Dr. Christina Iglesia | Mental Health Patient Leader

2019 Best in Show: Instagram Finalist

On October 10th, 2018 (World Mental Health Day), Dr. Christina Iglesia launched the #therapyiscool mental health action campaign. Dr. Iglesia launched this initiative after several patients disclosed how they don’t disclose the fact that they participate in therapy, even to the closest people in their lives. Statements shared, like “My parents don’t believe in therapy” or “People would think I am crazy or something” continued to make their way into the therapy room. The theme of these conversations kept coming back to stigma, this implicit agreement that mental health issues are not to be talked about. It became clear to Dr. Iglesia that people will continue to suffer in silence until we make it socially acceptable to partake in mental health treatment, such as therapy. It is with this in mind that Dr. Iglesia created the #therapyiscool mental health action campaign, with the intent to encourage authentic and open conversations about mental health.

Find out more about Dr. Iglesia’s mission and add her to your feed.

@cinnamillie_ | Eating Disorder Patient Leader

2019 Best in Show: Instagram Finalist

After being diagnosed with the most deadly psychiatric condition (Anorexia Nervosa) at the age of 15, Millie went against all odds to become the inspiring young woman she is today. Born and raised in a little South Yorkshire town in England, Millie personifies the “she may be but little, but she is fierce” quote by Shakespeare. Since creating her Instagram account to go in-depth about her mental health struggles, Millie has amassed over 11.5K followers, as well as finding love through her account too. Millie explains the ins-and-outs of having anorexia, whilst also going into the nitty-gritty areas which are too “taboo” in society, such as the physical effects of eating disorders, the hardships that arise from weight restoration and the suicidal ideation; but, Millie manages to twist this into a positive, encouraging her followers to fight against the cruelty of eating disorders, revealing what her life is like with the illness (mostly) not in her life anymore.

Add Millie’s motivational voice to your feed.

Natalie Kelley – @plentyandwellwithnat | Ulcerative Colitis Patient Leader

“There were moments in that hospital bed I thought I would never be where I am at today – running my own business, helping other women with IBD and connecting with the most AMAZING IBD community on Instagram. But most importantly, I’ve learned that an autoimmune disease doesn’t make it harder to reach my dreams, it adds TO my dreams because without ulcerative colitis I wouldn’t have found my passions, I wouldn’t be a holistic health coach, I wouldn’t have the amazing community that I now have and I wouldn’t be able to change other IBD patients’ lives, and that is truly priceless.”

Want to learn more about Natalie? Click here to follow her.

Arafa Salim Said | Sickle Cell Disease Patient Leader

Arafa’s biggest advocacy aim is to move toward a sickle cell-free Africa in future generations. In the meantime, she promotes healthier, stronger, and more supported living with sickle cell disease. Specific objectives include country-wide pre-marital sickle cell testing, promoting literacy for young people with sickle cell, and increasing the standards of sickle cell care. Through instagram, twitter, facebook, youtube, and other social media platforms, she is able to build a large digital community that can work together toward these aims. Her digital media advocacy also offers inspiration, education, and advice for Tanzanians living with sickle cell disease. Her hope is that her efforts will lead to a brighter future for the next generation of Tanzanians.

Check out Arafa’s important advocacy work. 

Megan King @thetravelinghaloofhope | Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Patient Leader

“Becoming an advocate for EDS happened by chance. My journey began in Sept. 05′ at 16. I can’t believe 1 decision changed the trajectory of my life forever. I’ve endured 35 surgeries due to EDS with the next 1 scheduled for Sept. 19′. Due to limited resources I wrote about my journey in the hopes to connect with others. I want to be a small part of the solution for EDS treatments. It’s classified as rare but it really isn’t. No two cases of EDS are the same. This can make diagnosis difficult because there’s no “face” to EDS. We are all unique individuals with our own unique presentation of symptoms. As I wrote, to my surprise, people responded to what I was sharing.”

Follow Megan and see the important work she’s doing.

Rachel Straining – @thenoglutengirl | Crohn’s Disease Patient Leader

“When I was first diagnosed, even though I knew it wasn’t true, I just felt like the only person in the world who had this disease. I didn’t realize that there were other people out there who were fighting battles so similar to one that was waging war within my own life. ⁣One day, I made the random decision to make an Instagram account to find some gluten-free food inspiration. That day, I also found myself searching the hashtag “Crohn’s Disease.” That day, I realized that, all along, I had never really been alone.”

Add Rachel to your feed and stay updated about her advocacy.

Lucy Johnbosco | Diabetes Patient Leader

“I have been using my Diabetes experience as a Type One diabetes patient to motivate and inspire others who have lost hope.”

Inspired by Lucy’s mission? Add her to your feed.

Don’t forget to follow these Top 10 advocacy accounts on Instagram for more inspiration!

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