Like it or not, TikTok is a reigning champ on the social media scene today. According to recent statistics, it is currently the sixth most popular social media site, with almost 70% of its users falling under the age of 40. Amid the tutorials, challenges, and pet videos, however, there is a new category of short videos that is starting to cause some buzz, particularly among mental health providers – mental health TikTok.
A quick search on Google will pull up multiple articles warning against the dangers of mental health TikTok. To be sure, concerns about misinformation and self-diagnosing are valid! However, I’d like to share three reasons that I personally love it when one of my clients says, “So, I saw something on TikTok I wanted to talk to you about.”
It gives a good starting point for a deeper conversation.
When one of my clients talks about a video they saw on TikTok (or any social media actually), my first question is usually the same: “What resonated with you about that video?” The reality is, we don’t talk about mental health as often as we should. As such, it can be difficult to put what we’re feeling into words. Seeing someone else explain it on TikTok can help give my clients the words they need to start discussing it in the therapy room.
It allows for a discussion about the nature of diagnosing.
One recurring concern about mental health TikTok is that people start diagnosing themselves or others with mental health disorders. While I do believe that self-diagnosing can be dangerous, I again love having this starting point to discuss the process of diagnosing with clients. We talk about the criteria needed for a diagnosis, along with the history and duration of symptoms; about about how symptoms often overlap with other diagnoses to ensure we have a complete picture. We even talk about the pros and cons of a diagnosis, all of which are topics that may or may not come up unless a client comes in with a suspected diagnosis.
It helps remove barriers to mental health care, particularly for youth.
To be very honest, clients often face many barriers in the pursuit of mental health. It can get expensive, and insurance doesn’t always cover it. There’s a higher possibility of stigma for receiving mental health care. For youth, they need parental approval to receive services. However, many people have access to social media. Having mental health resources on apps such as TikTok allows for more access to people who otherwise wouldn’t have it.
To be clear, while I believe that social media like TikTok can be a good tool in your pursuit of mental health, it should be one that is used wisely. Check the credentials of online professionals sharing information. Remember that people sharing their experiences with mental disorders are sharing just that – THEIR experience with it. Listen to see if they are working with their own therapist for help. Whenever possible, check with a mental health professional if you have questions or concerns about what you are hearing. If you need help navigating your own experience with mental health TikTok or just mental health in general, we at Heartland Therapy Connection would love to assist you! Feel free to call us at (816) 287-0252 and schedule an appointment today!