TikTok Isn’t a Doctor: Why Online Misinformation is Dangerous

By: Mikaila Storrs | Published: Jan 11, 2024

People are now turning to Google or social media platforms such as TikTok to find out what is wrong with them, versus consulting a doctor.

If you’ve ever checked out WebMD and convinced yourself you have a serious illness when you just have a headache, this relates to you.

Influencers Are More Accessible Than Healthcare Professionals

The public has influencers at the tip of their fingers, which is more accessible than making an appointment with a health care professional. 

Woman Influencer Recording Video On Camera

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This is leading them astray because most influencers are not licensed to give medical advice.

Health Professionals Are Adapting with Online Health Support

The health industry is responding to the chronically online generation with the introduction of digital health products and apps that correct health support. 

Health Tracking App on Iphone

Source:Joshua Miranda/Pexels

Previously, health professionals have fought the idea of digital health services; however, the public is now online a majority of the time, and they are adapting to the new world.

General Public Is Chronically Online, Causing a Need for Online Health Services

Because of consumer demand for online health services, the companies who previously vetoed the idea are now coming around to the idea of online health services (via Forbes).

Opening TikTok App on Iphone

Source: Solen Feyissa/Pexels

This could be due to the fact that people were primarily online during the lockdown due to COVID-19. 

Influencers Are Not Psychologists

One of the most popular health searches on TikTok is for mental health support

Person In Therapy Session With Therapist

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It is good for people to be able to see influencers talk about mental health, so they don’t feel alone. But when it turns into giving health advice, that’s when things start to get dangerous.

People Turn to TikTok for Mental Health Support

A recent study analyzing 500 TikTok videos tagged #mentalhealthtips found that a staggering 83% of the mental health guidance was misleading and could lead to detrimental outcomes by listening to these creators. 14.2% of videos had content that the study considered potentially dangerous that could lead to further mental health problems.

#MentalHealth Videos on TikTok

Source: TikTok

With 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. affected by mental illness each year, it is very important for people to get the right help they need as mental health and treatment is very specific to each person’s needs.


Professional Appointments Are More Expensive Than Your TikTok Therapist

Psychotherapist appointments, on average, cost $100-$200 per session, which is pricey for most people and sometimes not covered by insurance.

Therapist taking notes during a session

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This leads people to look at what they have at the touch of their fingertips, and that is TikTok on their phone


There Is a Desire for Online Mental Health Help

So we can see there is a need for online mental health services that are cost-effective and don’t require lots of wait time.

Person Talking On Camera on Computer

Source: Edward Jenner/Pexels

When you need help, it is good to have easy access to any mental health options on your phone. Mental health struggles are not something you are usually able to wait for an appointment to get help with.


Influencers Feel More Human Than Doctors

TikTok can feel more personal than a doctor or online forum, because it is a real person talking about their struggles or things they have experienced.

Woman Influencer Recording Video On Iphone


Health brands are noticing that people desire that human connection and are now introducing more telehealth, online communities, and personalized stories of hope to provide credible mental health support.


Free or Low Cost Online Health Options Need to Be Available

Insurance companies are introducing digital health care to large networks. The problem is the cost, when people need to have free or low-cost digital health services.

Social Media Apps on Iphone

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If medical professionals want to compete with TikTok, which is free, they will have to offer no-cost options as well. 


Big Pharma Is Working to Become Easier to Understand and Use

The health care industry is trying to consolidate all their information into easy-to-access online data for their patients, with their medical records, test results, and treatment options at the click of your finger in apps or online.

A doctor smiles at the camera while wearing a lab coat and stethoscope

Source: Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Health insurance companies and hospitals are also on track to making health care more user friendly with consolidating their technology as well into online platforms. 


Digital Health Products Are the Future

TikTok and other apps like that will never disappear. Even if one closes, another similar one will likely pop up. 

Apple Watch On Persons Arm

Source Pixabay/Pexels

However, digital health products such as online mental health access and devices such as Apple Watches and Oura Rings can be the future and offer professional health advice.