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15 therapists share the worst mental health advice they've seen on social media.

15 therapists share the worst mental health advice they've seen on social media.


The internet is a hotbed of infographics offering mental health advice.

You don't have to scroll far to find a colorful slideshow about box breathing, how to identify triggers, or in-depth definitions of different diagnoses. Given how expensive and inaccessible mental health care can be, it's great that the internet can function as a resource for people to learn more about themselves.

However, not all social media posts are created equal, and taking mental health advice from a stranger online with no qualifications is very different than gleaning info from a licensed psychologist or professional. So it's good to form a critical eye in order to parse the wheat from the chaff.

In a popular Ask Reddit thread, therapists and psychologists shared the worst mental health advice they've seen on social media.

1. From tanmayshah28:

'You are wasting 1/3rd of your life sleeping' Not just bulls**t but a recipe for madness and death.

In short: don't compromise on sleep.

2. From 14aspendr:

I saw someone tell another individual with schizophrenia that they didn’t need medication - what they really needed is the motivation to cope with their mental illness symptoms.

3. From ThadisJones:

'In my day kids didn't have these so called mental health issues, get over it.'

That's because in the good old days, affected persons fell through the cracks and committed suicide, became homeless and vanished, or were locked up away from society until they died. So what you're seeing is survivorship bias.

4. From I_am_the_night:

As both a psych nurse and a counselor, I see so many terrible things. Most of the 'advice' you see online from non-scientific sources is mostly harmless pop psychology stuff, and some can actually be helpful (e.g. don't use your phone in bed to help you sleep better at night, or daily meditation for mindfulness, etc.).

But there are things I see online all the time that are just such bulls**t I'm not even sure how they are legally allowed to stay up. Such as:

-Almost anything to do with essential oils. Some essential oils in small amounts can be useful for mild aromatherapy in some conditions (can help with seasonal affective disorder), or as additives in medicinal mixes, but otherwise there's basically no evidence that essential oils do anything other than cost a lot of money and destroy the environment. Some can be legit dangerous to your health.

-People who claim there is any kind of trick that will snap you out of depression or addiction, or motivational speakers who claim that you just need to think positive. If some people find that helpful, that's great, but there is basically no evidence that self-help stuff is better than placebo when it comes to depression or other conditions.

-Anyone who tells you that you 'just need to get over it' is full of s**t and doesn't actually understand what it means to process something difficult.

But the big one for me is when people claim that emotions are somehow illogical, and that acting like an emotionless logic machine is the best way to be. Emotions are generally perfectly reasonable responses to thoughts and events, at least within the context of a person's own subjective experience.

Telling people that they shouldn't be so emotional or shouldn't let their emotions get to them is not only practically useless, it's also completely invalidating a person's experience. Sure, it's good to learn to process emotion and control behavior, but that's not the same as saying emotions are bad. This was longer than I intended it to be, sorry everybody.

5. From lovelywavies:

Typically they show pictures of sun breaking through trees and saying you don't need meds or nature is medicine or this is a real antidepressant, etc. Except some people do. Maybe they need both. Some people can find healing without medications, some cannot, and that's okay.

6. From pocaberry:

'Everything happens for a reason, don't let it get to you'. Absolutely not the right advice to give someone and actually can make things a lot worse. I appreciate the sentiment, but it can come across as very hurtful and maybe even vindictive when said in certain scenarios. On the flip, one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my therapist.

This was in the pits of depression after someone had s*xually ass*ulted me. She said that essentially I was holding onto a 'debt that would never be repaid' and that in the end, the debt would only hurt ME and not the person who owes me. It is best to write it off as bad debt and move on. Actually saved my life, that one piece of advice.

7. From TheSmilingDoc:

Obligatory not a therapist, but a doctor. People telling others you can just choose to not be depressed, or that you need to 'self care' yourself back to a normal psychological state.

Yes, healthy food, exercise, and enough sleep is definitely important! But too many people discredit the disease-status of depression and claim it's 'just a feeling'. No, sadness is a feeling. True depression needs therapy and possibly medication.

8. From Shadymoogle:

Amateur analysis of mental health issue through comments or posts. You aren’t qualified to diagnose someone, don’t do it. Even if you are, you should leave it to a professional environment where your words can actually have some positive impact rather than b**h slapping someone with your bachelor's degree for upvotes.

9. From sweeet_T_:

I always see people post depressed quotes and things like '2020 made me realize who was there for and who wasn't.' No, everyone's going thru this pandemic bulls**t headache together. It seems as though everyone's struggling.

Whether its financially, mentally, or physically (health) were all going through something and we shouldn't be acting selfishly expecting others to put their lives on hold to cater to ours.

10. From TheRedditTeacher:

'Just keep going.' Worst thing I ever did. Got me burnout.

11. From chacham2:

IANAP. Most advice I see online is horrendous. The first step towards a cure is admitting you are sick. Instead, most people encourage people with issues thinking their good intentions will cure the other person. In the long run, they have hurt them immensely.

12. From bda-goat:

Two things that are well-meaning, but I've seen them backfire.

Taking time off of school and/or work 'to work on yourself.' Look, I get the premise and I'm definitely not saying it's always bad, but I've seen it go south more often than I've seen it work. School/work/whatever provide opportunities to experience success and forward progress.

Yes, they can be very stressful at times and there are certainly situations where they may be toxic. If that's the case, I begrudgingly understand walking away. But just quitting without a plan often creates stagnancy in life that is just terrible for mental health.

I acknowledge that this is very much case-by-case, but if you're going to take time away from school/work, come up with a plan first. Have something you want to accomplish. If you don't have something to work on, now you're struggling with mental issues and bored. If it's work that you've left, it also leads to...

Money! The idea that money can't buy happiness is generally fine. The idea that worrying about money is shallow or that money doesn't matter is f**king stupid. I work almost exclusively with low-income clients and I've had plenty who feel like they're being vain because they're stressed about money.

I'm very straightforward in telling them that the people who claim money isn't important are either rich or delusional. Low income correlates with higher rates of depression, chronic stress, poorer health, less access to healthcare services, and just about everything else you DON'T want.

Money matters and telling people that they shouldn't worry about it is incomprehensibly misguided.

13. From GalaxyEyes20:

Clinical psychology doctorate student and mental health support worker here - anything to do with ‘getting a full 8 hours, eating healthily and exercise’ for depression. Yes, those things can have a very positive impact on low moods - but clinical depression usually stems from something and that problem needs to be addressed before these lifestyle tips can truly serve their purpose.

14. From LadyandtheRex:

The focus on eating disorders is around anorexia. People associate EDs with anorexia because that's what the media writes about. Take To The Bone, for example. But most people with EDs are at a normal weight and suffer from bulimia, binge eating disorder, and other varieties.

15. From ToBoldlyHoe:

Clinical social worker here. There are so many god awful things that my clients come to me saying that they've internalized. I hate so much that they spend time in money and therapy just unlearned terrible things they've been forced to accept before we can even scratch the surface of trauma/mental illness. But off the top of my head:

Calling things that anger you about a person 'toxic' or calling someone 'abusive' because they upset you. Words have power. Please don't belittle survivors.

Calling things that anger/upset/inconvenience you 'traumatic.' Nuanced, I'm aware. Trauma thresholds are very real psychological differences in people and what's traumatic for some isn't for others, sure, but again. Words have power. Please don't belittle survivors.

The use of 'OCD' 'depressed' and 'anxious' as adjectives. You straightening the pens is basic organization, not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Feeling sad or disappointed or even melancholic is often not depression, although it may be another valid psychological concern.

Being nervous and being anxious are clinically distinct words for two very different sensations and experiences. (Also the wildly inappropriate propensity for Redditors to call things 'autistic' is...wild.)

Yoga/positive thinking/juice cleanses/meditation/exercise/etc. Please. Medicate yourself if you feel it could help you. F**k those neurotypicals and hightail your a*s to therapy.

Please don't use weed or CBD without talking to your therapist. And for the love of god don't think we don't know when substances, any substances, are being used in place of or in conjunction with your meds. We do.

And we only want to help you. Most of us are team ACAB and don't want to snitch on you (or legally can't unless you meet certain parameters, double bonus) we sincerely only care about what could harm you.

Phew, super long and I could keep going but...yeah. Take online mental health 'advice' with a mountain of salt if you take it at all.

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