The Dark World Of TikTok’s Mental Health Problems

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TikTok is a fun place for everyone; a place to dance to your favourite tunes, to lip sync to your favourite artists and to have an open chat to your friends or followers.  There’s something for almost everyone.  However, if you dig deeper, look closer and peel back the gloss, you’ll discover hidden in the darkest corner of TikTok’s darkest room, the darkest secret they wish you never knew.

And, by the time you discover it, you’d wish you never knew too.

It’s a lonely sector of TikTok where not many can be found, but a growing number are slowly gathering.  Desperate for advice and desperate to give advice, teens are unleashing their woes onto the unsuspecting world.  TikToks announcing the author was ‘struggling rn (right now)‘ or ‘cant go on like this’ were many.

Teens are increasingly taking to social media to get the help they so desperately need, with thoughts they don’t understand and thoughts they can’t control.  Therein lies a huge but unsolvable problem.

Going down a huge rabbit hole I entered what was a terrifying world of teen mental health where (almost) every post was how I would personally describe as ‘concerning’.  As I scrolled one teen boy’s profile, I was confronted with wave after wave of TikToks stating that he was ‘struggling’ and ‘Im at the lowest point of my life’ and ‘let this next attempt work’.

Facing what I deemed as hugely concerning posts, I checked out the comments where a few regular friends were giving him encouragement, offering advice and a ‘shoulder to lean on’, telling him they were ‘always here for you’.  The fact he had some help lifted a little weight from my shoulders, knowing he was being helped.

It didn’t end there though.

Deciding to check out the profiles who were helping out, curious if these were ‘friends’ he knew or just random strangers.  However, upon entering the TikTok world of the first commenter, I was met with very similar TikToks as the ones I’d just left.  This time a teen girl who was declaring how much she was struggling.  This despite regularly commenting on the boy’s TikToks giving him help.  It struck me as something of a mental health circle.  All helping each other, lifting each other up, but all struggling with the same issues.

This is good, yes?

Well, no.  Having a circle of friends all suffering badly with mental health issues has the potential to do more harm than good.  It has the potential to keep the person’s mind on their problems.  The best thing is to take their mind off their health and not to have a group who’s sole common ground is talking about one of their mental health problems.  I say this from an experience point of view.

Additionally, it is dangerous to air your vulnerabilities so openly on an open platform (these profiles were not set to private).  It leaves these teens open to being groomed.  While reading the comments, I came across at least two uplifting comments from older men.  Now, these comments could be born out of genuine concern.  However, the fact still remains that they could also have been the beginning of a grooming attempt.  The vulnerable teens have made themselves even more vulnerable.

This leads me to my next point.

If we were to come across a very very concerning post, what could we do about it?  We couldn’t offer help, for the reasons mentioned above.  We couldn’t get TikTok to help because, well, they just wouldn’t.  So what could we do?

Sharing online probably feels the only way these teens can get it off their chests and get some advice, but there’s so many things wrong with all this and it’s very concerning.

What can be done though?  Simply advising young people to tell their parents if they have a problem isn’t necessarily going to help as they may not have a parent they feel they can turn to.

As a society, what can we do?

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