The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

The student-run news site of The Masters School

Tower

Photo gallery: GVS Senior Game Vs. GCDS 10/30
Photo gallery: GVS Senior Game Vs. GCDS 10/30
Varsity squash team travels to nationals
Varsity squash team travels to nationals
Climate Truths Climate Truths Unearthed: Episode Two
Climate Truths Climate Truths Unearthed: Episode Two
Xavier Rolston, Director of Multimedia • May 29, 2024

“Climate Truths Unearthed” is a multi-segment podcast dedicated to exploring on-campus initiatives for climate change prevention and adaptation,...

Unraveling the TikTok diagnosis dilemma: navigating mental health in the digital age

Unraveling+the+TikTok+diagnosis+dilemma%3A+navigating+mental+health+in+the+digital+age

In an era where information is at our fingertips, it’s tempting for students to turn to Dr. Google for answers to health concerns. However, the ease of access to medical information online comes with its own set of risks, particularly when it comes to self-diagnosing. The phenomenon of self-diagnosis through online searches has become increasingly prevalent among young adults, especially students. With a few clicks, students can find themselves down a rabbit hole of symptom checkers, medical forums, and random anecdotal accounts. What starts as a harmless search for information can quickly spiral into a cycle of anxiety and hypochondria.

Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram expose children and teens to content where influencers are sharing their mental health experiences. They often talk about their symptoms, coping strategies, and possible diagnoses. This content is often shared with the intent of raising awareness, reducing stigma around mental health, and creating a safe space. Despite there being positives, many young adults resonate with those experiences, leading to self-diagnosis with conditions such as anxiety, depression, autism and even ADHD. Only 27% of the most popular autism-related Tik Tok videos contained accurate information, according to a study from Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute. This shows that a large amount of TikTok videos, even though they are very popular, are inaccurate. 

Viewers will often make hasty conclusions when their symptoms may actually be a normal reaction or a different condition. According to a Fox13 study, 55% of high school students said they have used social media to diagnose their own mental health at least once. Many people become overly certain that they have a condition, leading them to ignore any other possible explanations. 

The algorithm of apps such as TikTok does not help this problem either because they are designed to show viewers content that they are interested in. This often leads to repeated exposure to things related to their perceived mental illness. Additionally, this creates a cycle of reinforcing one diagnosis and blocking out other conditions.

Contributing to these challenges is the issue of misinformation and false news that is prevalent on the internet, particularly on platforms like TikTok. According to the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, approximately half of the analyzed TikTok videos about ADHD were misleading. The rapid spread of misinformation on these platforms contributes to the confusion surrounding mental health. It is very challenging to recognize misleading content, exaggerated stories, and unverified claims, which can increase the risks of self-diagnosis. So what can you do about it? 

There are four steps a person can take on their own in order to lower the risk of believing misinformation. 

  1. Source Evaluation. It is important to consider the expertise, authority, and objectivity of a source before accepting it as true. 
  2. Question Everything. Not everything you read or see on social media is accurate, so it’s important to be skeptical and curious. 
  3. Awareness of Bias. Humans by nature have some sort of bias, whether they are aware of it or not, so being mindful of sources, or even your bias is important. 
  4. Fact-check. Last but not least, make sure you are cross-verifying information with reputable organizations, experts in a field, or peer-reviewed research.  

Stephanie Carbone, Upper school guidance counselor, said, “The three main platforms to take care of are our minds, bodies, and souls.” She continued, “The more we take care of our bodies,  the more it trickles into taking care of our minds, and the more we allow ourselves to take a pause during the day, the more we are taking care of those platforms.” 

Carbone, along with all of the other guidance counselors, are always in the Health Center if students have any questions or concerns. If students are ever nervous about visiting a healthcare professional, they can email counsleling@mastersny.org to set up an appointment or visit the health center.

Talking to a professional may seem intimidating, but blindly trusting someone you may not even know on the internet is not the solution. The internet is a place with tons of helpful information, but it is as equally of a place with misinformation and fake news. Remember, when it comes to your health, trust the experts, not the algorithms. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Comments on stories are posted at the editorial discretion of the Tower staff.
All Tower Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *