TikTok and Mental Health: What’s the Connection?

When the topic of social media comes up in conversation, everyone has a differing opinion. Some people spend countless hours on their accounts while others only have social media accounts to keep in touch with family. Regardless of how we feel about it, social media is here to stay. In recent years one social media platform that has made headlines is TikTok. TikTok has become a popular platform for people of all ages and varying careers, there is content for everyone.

If you use TikTok frequently you have most likely stumbled across a video with a caption reading something along the lines of “Do you have these symptoms? Then you may have (diagnosis).” Often these videos will list very common traits that are not medically abnormal on their own, and if not causing significant distress are harmless. This leads to self-diagnosis, which can be both helpful, and in some cases harmful.

Self-diagnosis vs. Clinical-diagnosis

Defined by the American Psychological Association, a clinical-diagnosis is the process of identifying the nature of a disorder by examining the client’s medical past, identifying symptom patterns, and by using assessment tools. A self-diagnosis occurs when we come to the conclusion that we have a certain diagnosis without any confirmation from a medical professional. The diagnosis may be well-researched and could even be correct, but it has not been confirmed by a diagnosing professional.

Receiving a clinical diagnosis is not always easy. There are many barriers to receiving mental health care from lack of insurance to lack of transportation or lack of parental support. For some teens, a self-diagnosis is the only way to receive some sort of explanation for the way they are feeling and guidance on how to cope. With 84% of the mental health information presented on TikTok being misleading, it’s important to know how to find trustworthy information when mental healthcare is not accessible to you.

Finding Accurate Information

When you are watching a video or reading an article, ask yourself, what are the credentials of the person sharing this information? Are they a licensed mental health professional, or are they a peer sharing their experience? If they are a peer, are they sharing where they received the information they are sharing? If you are looking for trustworthy information, websites such as the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American Psychiatric Association, and Mental Health America are all reliable sources. Most importantly, share your thoughts and the information you find with a trusted adult. Whether that is a parent, a school guidance counselor, a teacher or another safe adult, building a support system as you navigate your mental health journey is important.

When mental health information is presented to you on social media, how do you know if it is trustworthy?

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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