Hey, I Have That: Mental Health Self-Diagnosis in the age of TikTok

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This study examined the behaviors and credibility perceptions of users related to mental health information on TikTok. Further, it explored the factors influencing self-diagnosis, imitation, and the sources of information individuals rely on when determining their own health conditions. The data was collected through a questionnaire that included both multiple choice and open-ended questions. A total of 131 participants were deemed eligible for inclusion out of an initial sample of 191 individuals, following the application of screening questions. Findings suggest that both how much time spent on TikTok and the number of hashtags pertaining to mental health seen influences self-diagnosis of mental illness. While the majority of participants did not largely report imitation and identification behaviors, it was found that if users engaged in one behavior, they were likely to engage in additional ones. Finally, there was a moderate level of perceived credibility for both mental health content and the users that share it. The most interesting findings revealed that the age group of 18 to 24 were more likely to self-diagnose with more time spent on TikTok; additionally, they were more likely to perceive both users and content more credibly.

TikTok, Self-Diagnosis, Mental Illness, Social Learning Theory, Health Communication