- Recent TikTok and social media trends have been using depression as a marketing tool.
- This made experts sound warning bells on the negative link between influencer culture and mental health.
Social Media, Tiktok, And Mental Health
The Internet and social media platforms (like Instagram and TikTok) comprise effective channels through which adults—particularly adolescents and teenagers—can access information about mental health.
In recent years, several celebrities have fallen back on these domains to openly discuss their mental health struggles. Practices like posting “melt-down selfies” or reels and going live to discuss mental health have also gained momentum.
However, not all conversations about mental health conducted over the Internet fulfill their good intentions.
Why Social Media Is Dangerous To Mental Health
Critics have cited that social media post formats (such as less-than-a-minute-long reels, 10-slide posts, or brief captions) tend not to leave space for adequate information about mental health conditions. At best, individually, the posts contain a sketchy summary of symptoms or treatment options.
While being a great source of positive support, at the end of the day, this advice or information on mental health on social media is not sourced from mental health professionals; instead, this is largely driven by users’ conversations. This makes people take to faulty self-diagnosis and treatment plans, besides impairing their:
- Self-satisfaction with life
- Professional help-seeking behaviors
- Medication adherence
- Overall recovery, etc.
How Influencer Marketing Trends Impact Mental Health
Social media portrayal of what is mental health is often skewed as it employs
overwhelmingly dramatic and distorted images of mental illness that emphasize criminality, prejudice, and unpredictability.
It consistently lends to negative stigmas that further propel the decline of one’s emotions, thoughts, and actions. Some mental health advocates even blame the media for promoting stigma and discrimination toward the mentally ill.
Studies also claim that influencers and mental health are negatively linked. Influencer cultures, in general, also promote pseudo-scientific information about health and psychology.
For instance, in recent years, there is a rise in the trend that treats depression as a marketing tool. Influencers promote non-empirical (and, sometimes, dangerous) concepts, remedies, and self-coping strategies surrounding unrealistic lifestyles, self-care, mental health, and so forth.
A good example is the fashion-therapy trend of “dopamine dressing”. This fad, while encouraging us to wear “feel-good clothing”, also triggers habits of impulsive shopping for clothes, compulsive buying disorder (CBD), and pathological hoarding. Another example is the popularization of toxic positivity.
Bettering The Impact Of Internet Culture On Mental Health
Despite its ills, social media platforms like TikTok and influencer culture can also be an important ally in challenging public prejudices surrounding mental health.
Such platforms can help initiate public debate and project positive human stories about people who suffer from mental health conditions. Especially for those who are marginalized or who lack access to mental health resources, such digital education can do wonders.
Moreover, media lobbying and press liaison can also help mental health professionals (MHPs) advocate for the cause of mental welfare, as well as provide a means of improving public education and awareness.