Today we’re looking at self diagnosis among teens & kids. This phenomenon is becoming more and more common, as young people are opening up to one another (usually via social media like TikTok) about their mental health. In one way, this is a wonderful thing. We are finally breaking down the stigma of mental health issues. But in another way, this is a dangerous trend.
How are these kids going about Self Diagnosis?
So, what’s happening? Kids in middle school, high school and college are creating videos and posting online regarding their mental health struggles. A lot of these young people go into detail about their specific symptoms and what they’re dealing with mentally.
There are many videos out there about ADHD, dissociative identity disorder (DID) and Tourette’s that are trending with this age group. It sounds fairly harmless until you start noticing that more of these kids and teens than ever are self diagnosing. They’re even starting to display some pretty serious symptoms.
Why Can this Trend of Self-Diagnosis be Dangerous?
Because of this rise in popularity of the self-reporting on mental health diagnoses, some therapists and parents are having difficulty handling the sudden growth in cases.
What concerns some counselors and parents is not that kids are being more open-minded about mental health. It’s that having a mental health issue is being viewed as “on trend.” It’s almost like the more diagnoses a teen has, the more curious and alluring they are to their peer groups.
Counselors and parents are afraid that kids are starting to thinking it’s not cool to be well-adjusted or happy. If you want to be en vogue, you might feel pressure to suffer from the most well-known mental health disorders trending on social media.
Difficulties when Interacting with Youth about their Mental Health
There are some therapists that say they are having a difficult time treating these kids. If the therapist challenges their self-diagnosis, they can become defensive and discredited. Many parents are reporting the same thing. This can make it very hard to have an open and honest discussion with your child.
There is an additional concern that if teens diagnose themselves with something that isn’t actually an issue, they may actually develop it adulthood. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Many counselors are afraid that they’re “experimenting” with these diagnoses, which then can actually create symptoms that may have never been there initially. If you are experiencing this as a therapist – or parent – you may feel pretty helpless.
Is it Just a Phase?
We have all been there. Whether you possibly tried out a Goth phase, or maybe you were a bit of a hippie…possibly into punk and all that entails or any number of other groups that adolescents “try on” for size. Usually, as adults, we grow out of those phases. And maybe, this is just another one of those things. Teens trying to find their identities.
The problem is this. Could more and more self diagnoses continue to happen if kids keep watching hours of videos about different mental health disorders? And if so, will this actually cause some mental problems for those kids and teens? It might.
So what do we do?
Unfortunately, there’s no clear cut solution to this problem. But we feel open communication is always key. If you see this happening with a kid or teen in your life, have a real heart-to-heart with them. Ask them about what they’re feeling and experiencing in their daily lives. Are they anxious? Feeling depressed? Get down to the basics with them.
Tread lightly, but also ask what seem to be some major topics of conversation on social media. Opening those lines of communication can be a real game changer.
If you do feel your child or teen needs to speak with a counselor, give Waters Edge a call. We have several therapists trained in working with kids and teens, and we can help them to open up and see what’s really going on. Call us at 912.319.5552 or email us today – we’re here to help.