TikTok, a social media app that features short videos, has become a platform for mental health. For example, thousands of mental health professionals, like psychiatrists, therapists, and advocates, use the app to talk to viewers about various mental health topics.
However, not all social media content is accurate, including mental health content. This article will explore navigating mental health on TikTok and avoiding inaccurate mental health information.
What Are Some Drawbacks of TikTok for Mental Health?
As with any source of information online, verification can be a significant drawback to using TikTok, or other social media platforms, when learning about mental health.
For example, it is essential to determine who the professionals are on your screen and if their advice is clinically proven. Mental health is a serious topic, and just because someone has access to a platform to share their advice, it only sometimes means they have the expertise to do so.
Sometimes, information on TikTok can be inaccurate, misleading, or confusing. Sometimes, factual information can be presented, but without context, it can lead to incorrect conclusions.
Many people on social media do not have formal mental health training or expertise and may not be adequately informed. Applying this information to yourself can be inaccurate.
Another thing to consider is that being on social media, in general, can sometimes be harmful to mental health. It depends on the circumstances, but sometimes there is content on social media that may not be the most supportive of mental health.
What Are the Risks of Inaccurate Mental Health Information?
There can be risks when people consume inaccurate mental health information on social media. Here are some of them:
- Using social media for mental health can delay a person seeking help. Some people may even use it to avoid getting the professional help they require.
- A person can waste valuable time watching content with inaccurate information.
- People may end up spending money on products due to them being promoted by influencers. These products may not have been appropriately studied or worked.
How Can You Determine a Creator’s Qualifications?
Trustworthy and credible creators will list their qualifications in their bios. That way, viewers know about their background. You will look for information from licensed therapists, counselors, social workers, nurses, and doctors in the background. These professionals will likely have accurate mental health information.
For creators that aren’t mental health professionals, as long as they’re open about their qualifications and do not give medical advice, they can be helpful. However, you will need to be mindful that these creators aren’t representing themselves as experts. Titles like “coach” or “expert” may not reflect a person’s qualifications.
Why is Gen Z struggling with their mental health more than other generations? Read our article about Gen Z and Mental Health Issues to learn why.
What Are Some Benefits of TikTok and Mental Health?
We’ve covered all the precautions for seeking mental health information on TikTok. However, there are benefits to mental health advice on TikTok, and it can make people feel less alone.
In fact, the #MentalHealth hashtag has been seen more than 16.4 billion times on TikTok, and the #MentalHealthMatters hashtag has more than 13.5 billion views. Even the incorrectly spelled #mentalheath hashtag has been seen more than a billion times.
TikTok is proud of being a space where people can be open about their mental well-being. However, it is essential to ensure that communities are safe on this platform.
TikTok is trying to expand its resources to help those struggling with mental health. For example, there are new features around discussions of suicide. In addition, TikTok has expanded its resources for anyone struggling with an eating disorder. This feature provides resources if someone searches for a term involving an eating disorder.
The platform also banned content with potentially problematic hashtags and uses common hashtags like #WhatIEatInADay to link back to resources and accurate information.
TikTok can be a helpful platform for people trying to feel less isolated, and it’s encouraging that they provide resources, seeing as social media apps themselves can contribute to mental health issues.
For example, a report from Wall Street Journal found that thirty-two percent of teenage girls felt bad about their bodies because Instagram made them feel worse.
How Can You Find Mental Health Help on TikTok or Other Platforms?
Even though TikTok may not be the first choice for mental health professionals, it can be appealing due to its accessibility. TikTok is helpful since it brings more awareness to mental health topics and helps combat stigma. Essentially, TikTok is not a substitute for mental health support, but it can empower many people.
However, TikTok can still be helpful for people in many ways. For example, mental health wasn’t talked about openly for so long. Platforms like TikTok are making it easier for people to be more open about these topics and normalize them. As a result, people may be more inclined to seek out help.
What Are Some Trustworthy Sources for Mental Health?
Many resources are available outside social media if you struggle with mental health issues. For example, The National Council for Mental Wellbeing features resources and helplines.
Other sources include The Mental Health Coalition, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Mental Health America. These organizations offer free resources online from licensed mental health providers.
If you are thinking about suicide or worried that a loved one might be, the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline can help. All you have to do is call or text 988 from any phone in the United States. You can type “suicide helpline” into Google to find local help in other countries.
At LGBTQ and ALL, we have several resources available for those seeking mental health help. Be sure to check out our site for more information.