TikTok Is My ADHD Therapist: The Dangers and Promise of Viral #MentalHealth Videos
Additude magazine recently reported on an alarming trend involving TikTok.
“#ADHD videos on TikTok have now received 2.4 billion views. These short, viral clips are spreading ADHD awareness, building community, and destigmatizing mental health. They are also perpetuating stereotypes, ignoring comorbidities, and encouraging self-diagnosis. Could a platform built for dance videos become a powerful source of health information — or are its risks too great to overcome?
“The #ADHD channel on TikTok — the social media platform comprising short video clips of coordinated dances, hopeful singers, and bored quaranteens — now boasts 2.4 billion views. Yes, billion. TikTok has 1 billion active users in 150 countries, including roughly 100 million Americans every month. Its popularity and a flood of new content posted during the pandemic has caused an undeniable spike in ADHD awareness, particularly among adolescents and young adults.
“At best, ADHD TikTok destigmatizes mental disorders, fosters community, and makes life-changing research accessible to a new demographic. At worst, it leads to dangerous self-diagnosis, overwhelms unqualified content creators with direct requests for help, and perpetuates untruths that further stigmatize individuals with ADHD.
“The question with which ADHD professionals and caregivers are grappling today is this: Do the benefits of #ADHDTikTok outweigh its risks, or vice versa?”
The article notes some advantages and risks.
- Sometimes experts, such as Ned Hallowell, weigh in on ADHD
“I’m trying to do a service to educate the public,” Dr. Hallowell said. “[ADHD] is a good news diagnosis! Not knowing you have it is the real danger… then you don’t know why your best efforts don’t succeed.”
- TikTok Confuses Content Creators with Experts
Catie Osborn is a 32-year-old actor whose @catieosaurus video series presents research on topics that fall outside the mainstream, such as the link between ADHD and comorbid disorders like anxiety, mood and eating disorders, chronic pain, and sexual dysfunction.
“Nobody ever told me that people with ADHD have a higher likelihood of having eating disorders or being predisposed to addiction,” Osborn said. “That is information that should be on the front page of the brochure, not something that some random person on TikTok tells you in 15 seconds!”
Read the full article here.
Social media comprised of snippets of information from “influencers” poses a significant risk to spiking self-diagnoses and spreading misinformation.
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