News has become much more accessible to the world through social media and technology. Social media users are bringing up information about mental health and other real world problems online. However, it is very easy to find information on mental health online that is false, and it can easily confuse users.
It is tough to tell if tests like this are trustworthy, especially when social media is filled with inaccurate information.
“Unless the people creating the quizzes are actual doctors with medical licenses or psychiatrists or health professionals with the right credentials, I don’t think these quizzes will or can accurately diagnose anyone,” said Tiffany Liew, a school counselor at Berkeley High School.
She also states that most information online isn’t created by doctors with the right medical experience. “So what happens is if somebody takes it upon themselves to say, ‘This is what, from my own personal experience, this is what depression and anxiety looks like.’ While that may be true for that one person, mental health and just any sort of medical diagnosis in general looks very different for every single person,” said Liew.
Liew discussed better ways to get help in comparison to these online sources.
“The closest thing to getting an answer to your medical problem would be seeing somebody who … has experience working with patients diagnosed with something similar … so that you can get the treatment and help you need as soon as possible,” said Liew. “If needed, they’ll have the expertise or at least they’ll have a list of people that they know to refer you to so that you can get answers if they can’t answer it themselves.”
Liew’s solution is not something that everyone can access, though. “Some people don’t have the money to do that,” said Eryn Murphy, a sophomore at BHS. “So then they just take this test and they think that whatever the test says is great. And then that’ll affect how they think.”
It can be hard to separate fact from fiction, and regardless, the results can become self-fulfilling. “(They) can make you perceive yourself as more depressed or (like you) have something you actually don’t,” said Murphy.
Reaching out to professionals is the most effective option for getting help. Real people who can connect emotionally with people in need are much more likely to have an impact than the anonymous internet. These doctors have access to therapists and medicine, and can also help to ensure information is legitimate and should be trusted. This way, more people in need can get the help, support, and treatment they need.