My only memory of talking about mental health during my primary education comes from a single class in high school.
We watched a film about a teen who had developed schizophrenia. But this wasn’t an opportunity to educate us about his diagnosis; it felt more like a cautionary tale.
It left us with the distinct impression that specific diagnoses made you essentially “untreatable” or that your family would crumble under the weight of your illness.
This message was both damaging and fear-inducing. Should any of us ever receive this diagnosis, we might not even see the point in seeking help and lapse into hopelessness.
Growing up, the only way most young people learn about different mental health diagnoses is when they’re labeled with them.
Or if they happened to casually browse the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders released in 2013), which no one without a psych degree or mental health diagnosis would ever put themselves through.
Now, though, kids seem to be at an advantage in terms of understanding and coping with mental illness early. And one of their most readily available resources is, shockingly, Tik Tok. So how can we verify information on Tik Tok?
A straightforward internet search should either confirm or disprove any facts stated on the app. And many creators will provide links or cite their information in the comments on the video.
In a sense, Tik Tokers are today’s kids’ Bill Nye the Science Guy, or John and Hank Green (brothers, authors, and creators of online videos on topics in history and science, respectively).
These figures break down complex issues and disseminate information through easily digestible videos on an accessible platform. In other words, they were the blueprint for the brainy side of Tik Tok.
Perhaps the most helpful facet of these videos is sharing the life experiences of those with specific diagnoses. In some cases, a person in your life may come across a video titled “common signs of Autism.”