If you follow me, then you know I love posting a TikTok video here and there! It’s fun and offers encouragement to those who watch them. I hear friends talk about how comforted they are from the validation they feel from the content, they love how much the learn on the app and it’s always good for a laugh when they’re having a rough day! The main concern I have with the app is the surge of self-diagnosis and over-identification with said diagnoses that I’m starting to see.
According to Google trends, searches for mental health disorders that I also see trending on Tik Tok are on the rise and in the last 12 months:
- Searches for neurodiversity are up 250%
- Searches for ADHD are up 80%
- Searches for Tics are up 150%
- Searches for anxiety are up 250%
Now…some of this is FANTASTIC news! Mental health diagnoses deserve attention, they deserve to be destigmatized and talked about, and they deserve all of the awareness! I am so glad to see such positive and normalized messages on TikTok about the above mentioned diagnoses because it can help people feel accepted and for many it can help them seek help so they don’t’ need to suffer in silence any longer! I love that people might see a set of symptoms explained and realize that they aren’t crazy…they have a chemical imbalance that can be treated!
The concern I have is more around the appropriation (the action of taking something for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission) of mental illness by people who think it’s fun/funny/trendy or otherwise gets them more followers/attention. There can be serious medical risks to a person who gets prescribed medication that they don’t need. More commonly though, there are mental health concerns with overly identifying with a mental health condition and making that your primary identity (whether the condition is real or generated).
A healthy identity is comprised of so much more than symptoms. A healthy identity is comprised of your values, beliefs, spirituality, interests, education, history, physical appearance, racial identity, socioeconomic status, etc. To limit your identity to only one piece of you (i.e.: I’m an anxious mess) undersells the amazing person that you/they are! I hope that we can all use social media, including TikTok as a tool and not an identity. We can learn so much about the world by being as connected as we are within social media; just make sure not to pigeonhole yourself!