Despite its flaws, TikTok can serve as an important tool

TikTok provides a space for creators to destigmatize mental health and therapy.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 5:05 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - As social media continues to evolve, we learn more about its uses and the effects it may have.

While platforms like TikTok can have negative impacts, behavioral health professionals at Augusta Health said it does a lot of good too.

“I definitely have patients come in and say, ‘I just didn’t realize that I was going through this certain thing until I saw it there and I thought to myself, ‘that’s my story,’” Andrea Kendall, Licensed Clinical Social Worker with Augusta Health, said.

TikTok provides a space for creators to destigmatize mental health and therapy. They share their experiences and encourage others to practice mindfulness and to know they aren’t alone.

“Somebody sharing their lived experience is one of the most powerful tools you can have in therapy, even in healing in general,” said Kendall. “We are a smaller community and sometimes when people look for a specific support group they can’t find it, but they can find it on that kind of platform.”

Like with most things, TikTok has good and bad parts. TikTok’s use as a mental health space can be incredibly helpful, but it often leads to people self-diagnosing.

“I would be weary of anyone who makes very specific proclamations. ‘If you have these symptoms, then you absolutely 100% have this disorder.’ It can cause unnecessary panic or distress or misdirection from people who are self-diagnosing based on what they’re seeing on TikTok.”

Kendall said she has seen that as a provider, and it’s a good place to start conversations about certain struggles and feelings.

Because of TikTok’s role as a conversation starter and awareness tool, Kendall said she’d urge parents to allow their teens to use the app.

“It can be such a strong, powerful community that I tend to sort of advise parents [not to] cut it off completely. It’s important to have discussions about safe internet behavior and really just have a conversation -- what are you seeing? Show me. Can we do it together?”