Teens Increasingly Using TikTok for Mental Health Diagnosis and Support Social media platform offers ways for isolated teens and young adults to identify potential symptoms, but experts say relying on TikTok to fully evaluate symptoms has dangers.
By Main Street Sentinel Staff
TikTok and other social media platforms have, in recent years, become forums for the proliferation of discussion about mental health. This has proven true particularly for teens who might first be experiencing psychological distress and unable to talk to family about their symptoms, the New York Times reported.
For her, that meant that during the isolation of the pandemic lockdown and the convulsions of racial unrest of that period, she did a lot of knitting.
TikTok’s format of videos of less than a minute offers easy to digest “bite-sized” definitions along with self-diagnosis quizzes which has made information more available and can help reduce stigma around mental illness and distress.
However, mental health experts warn that it has also led to a noticeable increase in teenagers who believe they have mental illnesses, including extremely rare ones. While not a problem in and of itself when appropriate, professional help is sought out, in some cases it can result in people incorrectly believing they have specific disorders, avoiding therapeutic treatments, or engaging in ineffective or dangerous treatments.
Mitch Prinstein, chief science officer of the American Psychological Association, told the New York Times that the problem is “it’s incredibly easy to misdiagnose. You might have symptoms that look like what an adult’s depression would look like, but as a child or adolescent it very well could mean something completely different.”
It is very easy to get roped into believing that a symptom equals a disorder, and misunderstand the nature of your psychological distress, experts warn. Teens, looking for community, can label themselves as having a disorder and seek treatment or compassion in the comments of popular videos and creators on TikTok.
And yet the platform’s popularity for discussions of mental health is likely due to the fact that many teens are in situations where they may not feel able to talk about what they are experiencing with parents or other adults.