DENVER (KDVR) — University of Denver student Olivia Lloyd said lots of young people get mental health information from social media.
“I used to struggle a lot with anxiety issues, and I would look up things to do whenever I had anxiety attacks,” the 18-year-old said.
She did not see a therapist but said the Instagram tips helped her.
“I found a lot of helpful tips on there about like breathing exercises and other self-care resources,” she said.
Social media starts conversations, but beware
Psychologist and University of Denver professor Kim Gorgens said sites like TikTok and Instagram can be used responsibly to raise awareness and start conversations about mental health with young people. They can provide resources, reduce stigma and share stories of hope.
“The milage that a teenager gets, to hear from their peers about someone’s experience of needing and getting help, is so powerful,” Gorgens said.
But she said there are some things to keep in mind about some of the influencers.
“They’re not trained in things like how to protect the confidentiality of conversations, how to make diagnoses, they are not trained in the treatment of different disorders,” she said.
Plus, she said, some people may try to self-diagnose based on information they see on social media.
“We look at a list of symptoms and we think, yeah I’ve totally got that. The reality is you really don’t know what you have until you have that conversation with someone who is licensed to make that diagnosis.”
How to get mental health help
If you need help with a diagnosis or any other mental health issue, you can call 988 to reach the crisis line.
You can also go to IMatterColorado.org to set up a free counseling session, or you can contact your health provider.