Peer support offers the knowledge that you’re not alone, which can give you a sense of self-acceptance. It’s a relief to know that your experience is relatable, and that’s part of why, like peer support, mental health influencers on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube have become so popular.
When you see someone else shares your struggles and inner complexities, it’s powerful. These are the things that make your life, your self care, and your healing different from what others might expect or understand.
But when someone else shares these things with you, you realize you might’ve judged yourself a little too harshly. Maybe you’re not as “weird” or “abnormal” as you thought.
Mental health influencers across social media are so successful because they offer viewers the type of relatable vulnerability available in a peer support setting. For viewers who haven’t worked up the courage to actively participate in peer support, mental health influencers help prove that it’s safe to share what (you think) makes you different.
Mental health content on social media doesn’t replace peer support or professional treatment. However, creators who talk about mental health and emotional wellbeing can help you find the words to advocate for yourself, feel less alone, educate others, understand when mistreatment occurs in a medical setting, and more.
We can’t put anyone on a pedestal or make them the pinnacle of recovery, but we can find comfort in the fact that we’re in it together. For those of us who never really see ourselves in mainstream media conversations–whether due to identity, chronic illness, trauma, or just mental health struggles–the representation available on TikTok and YouTube matters.
Mental health TikTok and YouTube still have their limitations
When you have a relationship that mainly consists of viewing another person’s life through media, that is called a parasocial relationship.
You don’t want to rely too heavily on media representation or parasocial relationships, because that would deprive you of the chance to actively take part in real, accepting relationships. Also, social media clearly has a harmful side. But sometimes that overshadows the positives it can offer.
There’s a sense of community when you see someone who goes through or has been through what you do. Sometimes, social media provides a person’s first-ever sense of community, and that can be life-changing. Mental health creators and influencers give much-needed examples of and encouragement to ask for help, recommendations for providers, programs, or support groups, share self-help or self-care tools, and more. Also, watching creators who speak openly about mental health is the first step toward getting help–or learning that it’s out there–for some of us.
So, yes. While it has its limits and pitfalls, social media can provide a form of peer support.
14 mental health influencers who make a difference
Whether you watch one of these creators or resonate with someone else, here are some examples of mental health influencers who make a difference by providing their viewers a form of emotional support.
1. William Hornby
Topic: eating disorders
William Hornby’s TikTok
Often, when eating disorders are covered in the media, they are misrepresented as something that primarily impacts thin, white, cisgender women, but this is not the case. William shares helpful reminders that, if you are struggling, you are struggling “enough” to get help.
2. Living Well With Schizophrenia (Lauren)
Topic: Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective Disorder
Living Well With Schizophrenia Lauren’s YouTube channel
Lauren makes videos about a variety of topics related to schizophrenia and related disorders, including schizophrenia and relationships, how to support someone experiencing psychosis, and more.
3. The A System
With a platform on YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch, The A System talks about life with DID.
4. Connor De Wolfe
Topic: ADHD and ASD
Connor De Wolfe’s TikTok
Through engaging, entertaining, and realistic short skits, Conner shows what it can be like to live with ADHD and ASD–and how those things can be strengths. Conner shares helpful tricks and makes highly relatable, comforting content.
5. The Brettina
Topics: BPD, anxiety, general mental health
The Brettina’s TikTok
Brettina has a knack for talking about the unspoken. Sharing frequently overlooked signs of conditions such as BPD and body dysmorphic disorder, Brettina makes relatable and helpful content.
6. Nicola Pierre-Smith, LPC
Topic: trauma, relationships, general mental health
Nicola Pierre-Smith’s TikTok
We all have interpersonal relationships, and learning how to navigate them more effectively is a lifelong process. Nicola Pierre-Smith, a licensed therapist, makes validating content addressing matters that range from inner child work to workplace trauma and more.
7. Dr. Courtney Tracy (The Truth Doctor)
Topic: BPD, therapy, varied
The Truth Doctor’s TikTok
Not only is this creator a therapist; Dr. Courtney Tracy is also someone with lived experience. Dr. Courtney Tracy, AKA, the Truth Doctor, makes validating, supportive content talking about everything from affirming teenage clients to trauma to what a therapy session might look like in various contexts.
8. Mai Abe, MT-BC
Music therapist Mai Abe starts important conversations about nuance, mental health, and healing on TikTok in addition to addressing Asian American issues and sharing an array of videos about music therapy on YouTube.
9. All Things Nefertiti
Topics: BPD, Bipolar Disorder, attachment, general mental health
All Things Nefertiti’s TikTok
A mental health advocate living with BPD and bipolar disorder, All Things Nefertiti talks about how mental health, past experiences, and attachment impacts relationships as well as a variety of other topics.
10. Hannah Fuhlendorf, MA LPCC NCC
Topics: eating disorders, systemic change, emotional healing
Hannah Fuhlendorf’s TikTok
Counselor and educator Hannah Fuhlendorf practices from a HAES perspective and debunks myths surrounding health and weight using science.
11. Anthony Padilla
Topic: general mental health
Anthony Padilla’s YouTube channel
In addition to opening up about his own struggles, Anthony Padilla interviews people of various experiences. This includes but isn’t limited to people with OCD, agoraphobia, PTSD, and those who have encountered a wide variety of traumatic events and other life circumstances. With an interviewing style that is unassuming and empathetic, Anthony’s videos will almost certainly leave you with new information and understanding.
Topics: deaf issues, disability, LGBTQIA+ topics, general mental health
The MotherBirdy’s TikTok
TheMotherBirdie makes videos about a variety of topics. Their affirmations and words of wisdom are comforting and abundantly helpful.
13. Mary Lambert
You may know Mary Lambert’s music, but did you know about the artist’s social media presence? With a podcast called “The Manic Episodes,” a YouTube account with 279K subscribers, and a popular TikTok account, Lambert’s presence is authentic and refreshing.
14. The Shani Project
Topic: therapy, general mental health
Shani’s page normalizes asking for help, with videos geared toward therapists, therapy clients, and teen counseling.
How to consume online content healthily
Media personalities and “influencers” are called that for a reason. They can have a lot of influence over how you think and feel, whether you realize it or not.
So how can you make sure that the content you consume is positive for you? When we talk about social media, it’s vital to address the ways that it can be damaging as well as the ways that it can be helpful.
Always use personal reflection and discretion. Ask yourself questions like:
“How does this content make me feel about myself?”
“Does this content support my emotional health?”
“Is this content helping me?”
“Is this content hurting me?”
Whether you follow a creator on this list or someone else, if you decide to use social media, it’s important to cultivate a feed that is healthy for you. Be honest with yourself, and don’t be afraid to unfollow the accounts that aren’t good for your emotional wellbeing.
And, if you’re in need of support? Don’t hesitate to reach out on a peer support network like Supportiv.
Peer support is not a replacement for crisis care. Please contact the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or someone you know is in need of immediate crisis support.