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Is TikTok responsible for false ADHD diagnoses?

Image of TikTok logo on smartphone
Solen Feyissa | Unsplash

News round-up by Conor D'Andrade

Concerns are growing around teens and young adults turning to social media for advice on mental health conditions such as Autism and ADHD.

Figures from TikTok show that videos about these conditions have been viewed almost 14 billion times.

For some, this had led to them seeking out professional diagnoses for a condition after coming across these videos and finding explanations for what they have considered ‘oddities’.

Nicole Stephenson told Channel 4 that she began to suspect she may have ADHD after coming across and relating to content about the condition on TikTok.

After receiving a professional diagnosis, she has been prescribed medication for her condition that makes daily functioning considerably easier for her.

Nicole also revealed a problem facing many seeking mental health support – her GP was unable to refer her to the services she needed.

To access the diagnosis and treatment she needed, she had to turn to private services.

However, experts have raised concerns over the accuracy of these videos and the dangers of self-diagnosis.

A study conducted earlier in the year found that over half of the top 100 ADHD videos on TikTok were ‘misleading and may cause unnecessary health anxiety.’

Dr David McLaughlan highlighted the unregulated nature of this content and the risks of people taking it at face value.

But he also suggests that the reason people are relying on this content in the first place is that NHS services are chronically underfunded and cannot provide the levels of mental health support the nation requires.

Almost £36m in benefits provided by children's counselling

An analysis conducted by ProBono Economics of one-to-one mental health services in schools has revealed that they “save millions a year.”

The study found that school counselling services provided by children’s mental health charity Place2Be resulted in up to £36million in benefits annually.

For context, for every £1 spent on Place2Be’s one-to-one counselling services, £8 in benefits is returned.

These benefits can be seen in the form of better employment opportunities for children in the future, alongside public savings made through reduced crime rates and less need for mental health support for complex mental health conditions.

Disabled students more likely to experience mental health issues

Research suggests that over half of university students with a disability have issues with their mental health while at university.

A survey conducted by Student Beans of over 2000 students revealed that 52% of students with a disability reported experiencing mental health problems, compared with 40% of those without a disability.

The survey also found that Freshers’ Week was a particularly hard time for students with a disability attending university, with 25% reporting that they felt lonely or isolated during that time period.

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