Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Today’s world is fast-paced. We seek immediate answers through unfiltered sources.
Just think of social media… How many times have you found yourself listening to a YouTube influencer with a headline of “How to achieve [X]”. But does this work for mental health advice?
The quick answer is NO.
We look at the number of followers and, for many, it gives the impression that the social media influencer must be credible or trustworthy. When, in fact, their advice may be lacking in knowledge, education and professional training.
While it’s beneficial to use these sources as go to for DIY projects, inspiration, and creative outlets, advice on mental health from someone who is not a professional can be risky.
For example, the most frustrating and common advice we are currently seeing from influencers is “Just Be Positive”.
IT’S NOT A BUTTON YOU CAN SWITCH ON AND OFF!
This kind of advice can be very dismissive and adds to the ongoing narrative that our emotions are wrong or should be changed. Our emotions are our body’s way of communicating with us. Becoming more aware of our emotions and attending to them allows us to build skills and tools that help us regulate and manage them.
So, why do we recommend you seek mental health guidance from a licensed mental health professional?
1. Mental health is complex.
There are some many different factors that impact our mental health, and not all “good advice” is relevant to your personal experiences. We go in-depth on why this is the true in this article.
2. Education & training are essential.
Mental health professionals must complete extensive educational training. In order to become a psychotherapist, one must complete a post-graduate degree at the Master’s level, including internships and placements.
Apart from schooling, registered and practicing psychotherapists are required to further their education throughout their career by engaging in different trainings in therapeutic models, supervision, readings and research.
Seeking advice from someone with the adequate training and experience is essential. For example, if someone is encouraged to explore their past or past traumas without the skills needed to navigate the conversation, this could lead to re-traumatization and a flooding of difficult emotions.
3. Psychotherapy is a regulated profession.
Regulated mental professional can include social worker, psychotherapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Each regulated mental health professional will have their own governing body.
As psychotherapists, we are regulated by the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO). The mission of the CRPO is to protect the public’s interest and ensure competent and ethical practice. When dealing with the public, and providing guidance, accountability is key.
You can click here to learn more about the CRPO’s Professional Practice Standards.
4. Inaccurate information can increase feelings of shame or self doubt
We often find ourselves consuming content that encourages us to be positive or grateful, and champions the idea that you are in full control and responsible for change. Although this is partly true, this advice can often dismiss other systemic or psychological barriers that also have an impact. How do you feel when you’re feeling stuck and are constantly told everything is in your hands, and it’s all in the mindset? It’s dismissive, it may be frustration and at times it may make us doubt ourselves and our capabilities.
Be mindful of what you consume and the impact it has on you.
We always recommend to seek direct counselling from a mental health or medical professional. However, we recognize that there is a lot of false information online and, for some people, counselling is not an option.
We hope to play our part in providing accessible mental health education as licensed psychotherapists. Please feel free to reach out to us with any particular questions.