How To Recognize Bad Mental Health Advice On TikTok

If you often find yourself spending endless amounts of time on TikTok, have no shame — as of 2022, there are estimated to be at least one billion active monthly users on the social media platform, per Influencer Marketing Hub, meaning you're not alone. Additionally, a report from SensorTower indicates that, on average, TikTok users spend 95 minutes every day on the app. The constant stream of content on the social network is reason enough to log on, but when you factor in the niche topics addressed by creators, there's even more incentive.

However, it's no secret that social media can have an impact on our well-being. As Forbes reports, new research continues to emerge on the effects platforms like TikTok have on mental health. Some parents who have seen negative impacts on their children are even filing lawsuits.

That being said, what about TikTok creators who seem invested in bettering the platform? Some post videos on the social network to provide mental health advice. With one out of every five Americans living with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, isn't this trend beneficial? As it turns out, not all advice should be taken into consideration, especially on TikTok. Here is how to recognize bad mental health advice on TikTok, as well as other social media sites.

Tips for recognizing bad mental health advice online

When anyone offers medical advice, TikTok creators included, it's important to take their credentials into account. "[Mental health professionals] show their dedication to the industry and the extra time they've taken to broaden their education in the space," Dr. Tracey Thomas explains to Elite Daily. This means that if they provide such advice, they're usually more than willing to back it up with their credentials.

Another way to recognize bad mental health advice you see on TikTok is to listen closely to the language being used by the creator. For example, therapist Rayni Collins tells Elite Daily that definitive words, such as "should" and "shouldn't," are not appropriate when giving mental health advice. "These two words are strong indicators that someone is trying to use force, which may or may not be with malicious intent," Collins told the outlet.

Finally, take a step back after you watch the video and notice how you feel. Are you now anxious? Do you feel sad or depressed after receiving the so-called "advice"? As Forbes points out, research has already shown that social media can have a real negative impact on your mental well-being. Whether you're hearing advice on TikTok, Facebook, or another social media network, it may be best to take it with a grain of salt.

The real data behind TikTok's mental health content

Some of the most popular hashtags surrounding mental health on TikTok are "#mentalhealthadvice" and "#mentalhealthtips," meaning users are indeed turning to the platform for this type of information — but how accurate is it? PlushCare analyzed 500 videos on TikTok that included these hashtags, and the findings were alarming. A whopping 83.7% of the mental health advice provided in these videos was deemed misleading. Furthermore, 14.2% of the videos had content that could be damaging to viewers. Overall, only 9% of TikTok creators who gave mental health advice had the proper credentials to do so — the remainder lacked the medical training necessary to help viewers with their mental health.

If you are struggling with your mental health, there are available resources and effective treatments that can help. By consulting with your doctor, you can learn about all of the different options As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes, receiving early treatment for a mental health condition can result in better outcomes and help you live a full, productive life.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.