Are Happy Facebook Pics Proof That You Aren't Depressed?

By Brett Israel | November 24, 2009 7:00 am

Facebook-picConsider this post to be your daily reminder to check your social network privacy settings–too much transparency could cost you your insurance benefits, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Nathalie Blanchard, a Granby resident, says she’s suffering from severe depression that has made it impossible for her to work full-time for the past 18-months.

She says her sick leave payments were cut after insurance giant Manulife obtained profile pictures on Facebook showing her at bars, whooping it up during her birthday and on a beach holiday.

Blanchard, who lives in Quebec province, said her doctor told her to go have some fun, but apparently her insurer thought she was having too much to be depressed. According to another CBC article, the moments of revelry didn’t cure her condition:

“In the moment I’m happy, but before and after I have the same problems” as before, she said.

She’s taking them to court, in what should be an interesting case to test social media’s reach into the real world. The case suggests a host of other difficult questions: Can insurance companies raise your premiums if they see a picture of you smoking a cigarette on the internet? Will the court decide you can make a medical diagnosis from a Facebook picture? What about a weekend’s worth of happy tweets?

Another take home lesson, kids, is that should you make headlines, for whatever dubious reason, your Facebook pics will also be on the news. However in this case, Blanchard offered up her photos to get her story to the media. ABC News has a short video interview with Blanchard on their site.

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Image: Facebook

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • penn

    Denying her coverage for severe depression because she is happy in photographs on her facebook page shows a complete ignorance of how depression, photography and social networking work. Those who are depressed can still have happy moments, or they can at very least fake a smile for a camera. It also seems obvious that most people think they are more attractive when they look happy, so only photos where you look happy will generally make it on to facebook. Did they expect to see a bunch of pictures of her sulking in a bathrobe on her facebook page?

  • richard

    so i don’t think so but the thing ids that we all may only depressed about our job and in general life can be sweet ,

  • Brian Too

    You know, normally I’m all with the mentally ill and against the insurance companies. But I have a bit of a problem with this one.

    Posit a normal human being who, for the sake of argument, doesn’t like their job. Maybe they don’t much like working at all. It pays the bills but then one day they discover that the corporate insurance policy will pay for unhappiness. Shazam!

    Suddenly they don’t have to show up for work and yet the paycheck is still rolling in. Now you have time to go on those beach holidays, spend time in the bars and update that Facebook page. And you have the money to do it in style.

    Maybe you say the difference is the doctor and the diagnosis. Well that’s true enough. However there’s never been an objective, scientific, irrefutable way to measure depression has there? I mean if I wanted to I could go to the Doctor and come up with a pretty good story that would get me off work. It’s like that non-specific back pain excuse.

    What’s that got to do with the above case? Well, seems to me kinda like Ms. Blanchard is depressed when she’s working and happy when she’s not working. Like the fun activities are, you know, fun, and work is not so much fun.

    My story isn’t proof. But then, Ms. Blanchard’s story isn’t proof either. And posting her exploits on the Facebook page was just dumb.

  • Jennifer Angela

    It doesn´t really pay to pretend you are depressed, when you are not, simpely because jobs are precious nowadays considering the current economicalsituation, even when they are not always fun. People who already have a job and are then on some kind of allowance for a while… and THEN return to work might find out their job is already GONE. What are they supposed to do then? Look for another job?! Sure, you can do that, but chances are very high you won´t be hired! It´s a very short-sighted and irresponsible thing to do! Was this person that immature? How are we to know? But as far as I am concerned, aren´t we supposed to assume somebody is INNOCENT until the opposite is PROVED?

    Don´t throw the first stone unless you yourself have NEVER done anything at least slightly childish or as you would say “DUMB”!

    You are a man after all, so I dare say YOU HAVE DONE VERY DUMB = CHILDISH THINGS before….. well at least ONE such thing! So why don´t you just relax and let a woman live her life, as it isn´t your life, after all.

    Personally, I find it interesting to see that people show themselves on facebook and are then punished for doing so. I guess that´s what losing privacy is all about!

  • T

    Mixed feelings on this one. I do believe people often misuse the system, and this may very well be the situation in this woman’s case.

    However, you can’t claim proof of mental wellness based on photographs of a woman enjoying her birthday or a vacation. Just because a person may have issues functioning due to depression, that does not mean they can’t enjoy things every now and then. Or at least appear to have enjoyment.

    As a person who has suffered from depression for years, I know firsthand. I have had terrible bouts of depression, to the point that I can barely get out of bed some days. I have had weeks where I don’t want to leave the house. That does not mean that I have never been able to have a laugh with a friend or celebrate an occasion. In times of depression, I have had friends show up on my doorstep determined to spend time with me or take me out for an activity. Sometimes I have been unable to accept. Other times I have accepted and could temporarily feel better with a fun activity. That doesn’t mean I stopped being depressed.

  • rradiko

    Overzealous insurance agents looking for excuses to deny services to their own paying customers.

    Sometimes I think that insurance is one big, institutionalized, rip-off scam. We pay them… and for what?

  • http://www.clopinette.fr/ Cigarette electrique

    lol hes so blazed

  • http://jazi.ru/ru/job/vacancy/misc/classified/174323/ высокооплачиваемая работа в москве

    Hello, I found your blog in a new listing of blogs. I dont understand how your weblog came up, wish to have been a typo, Your blog seems to be good. Have a pleasant day.

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