By Rikki Schlott, NY Post
A new group of social media stars are surging on TikTok: Mental health influencers. Most of them are teen girls and young women who post videos of themselves experiencing symptoms, like Tourette’s tics or rapid switches from one personality to another due to borderline personality disorder. Others, often without any medical credentials, post videos that help viewers “self-diagnose” their own mental conditions.
These videos are getting billions of views. On TikTok alone, the hashtag #BPD (borderline personality disorder) has 3.7 billion views, #bipolar 2 billion, and #DID (dissociative identity disorder) another 1.5 billion.
Recently, psychologists have noticed a wave of adolescent girls also claiming to suffer from Tourette’s Syndrome and rare mental health conditions, such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia — conditions not typically seen in the teen demographic. And a common denominator between many of these symptomatic girls has been identified: Consuming mental health content on TikTok.
In one case, Caroline Olvera of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago researched “numerous” girls with tics all blurting out the word “beans” in English accents — even some who didn’t speak English. As it turns out, a British Tourette’s influencer with over 14 million followers manifested the exact same “beans” tic.
After nearly two years of lockdowns and school closures, lonely teens are spending more time online, and many inevitably come across mental health content on TikTok. When they do, the platform’s algorithm kicks in, serving suggestible young girls even more videos on the topic. While mental health awareness is surely a good thing, well-meaning influencers are inadvertently harming young, impressionable viewers, many of whom seem to be incorrectly self-diagnosing with disorders or suddenly manifesting symptoms because they are now aware of them.
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