Pop star Justin Bieber recently found himself fending off a wave of online criticism after he took it upon himself to toss out some medical advice to the Instagram masses. And when some very qualified professionals weighed in, Bieber didn't exactly keep his cool.
It all began when 26-year-old Bieber advised that people could see positive mental health benefits if they simply focused on eating healthier. Specifically, the singer equated food and medicine.
As his original—and later modified—caption on the post conveyed, he drew on his own personal experience with anxiety and depression to make the sweeping claim:
"If you are feeling anxious or depressed it has to do with our diet! Try changing up your diet! It has helped me so much !!!"
After he published the post, a barrage of criticism rightfully came flying in.
Many users drew on their own struggles with mental health to call Bieber's advice an oversimplification of a much more complex issue.
In addition to those sources of criticism, a very qualified voice appeared, Dr. Joshua Wolrich, a British surgeon.
Dr. Wolrich, who boasts his own 318 thousand Instagram followers and hosts the podcast Cut Through Nutrition, was clearly comfortable offering a dose of public health education about food and overall health.
He spoke at length about the pitfalls of Bieber's viewpoint.
"The intention behind this post is good, but unfortunately the potential outcome is quite harmful. Food is many, many things but it's not medicine. That's not to say it isn't important - it provides us with nutrition and energy to thrive, but it has its limitations."
"Anxiety and depression is very rarely as a result of food intake. Mental health is complex and boiling is down to the privilege of food choices is incorrect and stigmatising for those who struggle with it on a daily basis."
"For any of you who read this and felt a sense of guilt that if only you changed your food you wouldn't struggle with mental health... please know that's not accurate. You are doing a fantastic job - do not compare yourself to a celebrity with all the capacity for change and privilege in the world x"
Bieber did not take that criticism lightly, as a story of his showed.
But Dr. Wolrich answered back to Bieber's counter-criticism with both a selfie video post and a lengthy monologue story in which he emphasized that food and medicine are very distinct elements of human health.
But the dust-up did yield some real dialogue between Bieber and Dr. Wolrich. According to Insider, the two spoke privately about their different views.
Following that conversation, Bieber even modified the caption to the original post. Dr. Wolrich highlighted the subtle change in a victory lap post to his Instagram.
Here's hoping that in terms of mental health awareness, more steps in the right direction are coming in the future.