By: Grow Wellness Group
Series: Trends Identified in Therapy from Grow Wellness Group Therapists
TikTok, as many know or use by now, is a social media platform that is often most popular among teenagers. It is also the now the primary platform where users share content about their experiences with mental health. While TikTok can provide some general information about mental health, it absolutely cannot replace the expertise or insight of a trained professional. However, this is exactly what is happening with many teens across the world, and we are seeing it at Grow Wellness Group.
Increasingly, teens are diagnosing themselves with mental health conditions based on short video overviews or explanations. Further, not only are they diagnosing themselves, but they are “owning” the diagnosis. In other words, let’s say for example that the teenage brain sees a video on Dissociative Identity Disorder, while lacking all other crucial contextual insight. Let’s also say the teen has had recent feelings of loneliness, social conflict and a desire to withdrawal when uncomfortable. In spite of these recent feelings, there is no true clinical basis for diagnosing; however, the individual teen is finding a semblance of peace in diagnosing themselves as, in many cases, they can own the diagnosis (and most importantly, the symptoms) with greater acceptance. In this way, self-diagnosing can actually act as a defense mechanism against having to accept the reality that the roadblocks in one’s way are, in fact, movable. Moreover, it also gives the teen the opportunity to “connect” with others who too believe they suffer from the same mental health disorders. This creates feelings of inclusion and acceptance by others. Nevertheless, all that is really being accepted or related is a mutual pain, and actually, lack of true identity.
What we need to Remain Aware of with our Teen Children and TikTok in particular:
Tiktok’s algorithm is designed to show users content that is most relevant to them, which means that users who search for or engage with mental health-related content are likely to see more of it on their For You page. It is as a result of this that TikTok has become a platform where many teens are diagnosing mental health issues in themselves and others.
- There is a risk that the information shared on TikTok may be misleading or inaccurate. Not all users who share mental health content on TikTok are mental health professionals, and some may not have accurate information about the conditions they are discussing. It is important for users to fact-check information they find on the app and to seek advice from a professional if they have any concerns about their mental health.
- Another issue with the mental health content on TikTok is that it can sometimes trivialize or glamorize mental health issues. Some users may share content that makes light of mental health conditions or portrays them as trendy or desirable. This can be harmful, as it can lead to a lack of understanding and empathy for those who are struggling with these issues.
That being said…
TikTok has no doubt been helpful in breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and allowing young people to openly discuss their experiences. Many users have shared their personal stories of dealing with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, and have offered tips and coping strategies to their followers. This type of content can be helpful for teens who are struggling with their mental health and may be hesitant to seek help from a professional.
This is not written to discourage teens from seeking out information on their own related to their own mental health. The intent is to direct them to the right places, which given the impact in the mental health arena, should be assessed by a professional.
If you would like to learn more or desire support, we are always here to help you Grow.