We’re all pretty familiar with the often stated concern that social media can potentially be a dangerous place for some people, especially those in their pre-teen and adolescent years.
The fact is that teens have taken to social media far more than any other age group has. And while much of what appears on popular social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok is not inherently dangerous, a number of studies have shown that some social media content can do damage. Not just to vulnerable teens, but to adult users as well.
Social media can be especially problematic – and highly controversial- when it comes to the dissemination and sharing of information about mental health. However, there are also indications that may be more of a good thing than bad.
According to a recent article in USA Today, “TikTok is giving people a mental health education they never had before.” In fact, information, conversation and online consultation about mental health has exploded on this fast growing social media platform. In fact, the hashtag #mentalhealth has garnered more than 15 billion views on TikTok.
TikTok has clearly captured the attention of young people.
Why? Likely because its a place where they can communicate with their peers, share, learn, love and laugh together in a community- without parents and other authority figures watching over their shoulders or listening in on their conversations.
Granted there are dark corners of the internet that are not safe places for anyone, wherever they may fall on the demographic scale. Teens and adults alike. But there is a growing sense that sharing mental health can actually be productive.
On the health site Well & Good, writer Maggie Gates posted a very personal and moving account of her experiences with BPD and with TikTok. She believes that TikTok greatly helped her recovery. “With TikTok, I can connect with a community confronting, overcoming, and living through the pain together.”
On a personal note, we recently opened a TikTok account (@bpdvideo) to share a number of videos supporting people impacted by BPD. These include commentary from leading experts in the field as well as people with lived BPD experience. We frankly have been overwhelmed at the volume of responses we have received to those posts from literally thousands of people from around the world.
So, despite having a reputation for frivolous, self-regarding and at times risque content, TikTok has shown that it can also provide a safe place for people who struggle with mental health difficulties.
That’s definitely worthy of a thumbs up.