13 Mental Health Professionals Using TikTok to Help Others

Picture of a cell phone with a Tik Tok app

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Are you interested in using TikTok to improve your mental health? While many people think of TikTok as a dancing app used by teenagers, the truth is that people of all ages are using the social media platform to connect with others, cheer themselves up, or learn something new.

Mental health professionals including therapists, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists have also flocked to the app with the goal of increasing awareness and providing tips and tricks to help the general public with their mental health. Some of these professionals have even garnered a large following (some in the millions).

While TikTok will never be a replacement for therapy, this platform has allowed mental health professionals to reach a much wider audience than they otherwise would, and de-stigmatize the process of therapy and seeking help for mental health in general.

If you'd like to search for these professionals yourself, you can look up the hashtag "#tiktoktherapist" on TikTok to find a slew of licensed therapists sharing tips, making funny videos, and giving out mini doses of therapeutic advice.

The best accounts to follow often share advice in a relatable way that reinforces the idea that a therapist is just another person and that therapy is not something to fear. If nothing else, mental health professionals on TikTok have shown that we can normalize talking about mental health concerns and that free advice can still be helpful.

The 13 mental health professionals below have made a name for themselves on TikTok. While it isn't likely that they are on the app to attract more clients to their practices (although that could definitely be a side effect), their videos have educational value and they are definitely worth watching.

Dr. Julie Smith, PhD

  • TikTok Handle: @drjuliesmith
  • Occupation: Psychologist
  • Topics Covered: Anxiety, depression, self-sabotage, narcissism, relationships, brain science, encouragement
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 2.6 million

Dr. Julie Smith has one of the largest followings on TikTok of all the therapists on the app, and she was one of the earliest adopters. While apprehensive to join at first, Dr. Smith has become one of the go-to mental health professionals because of her short psycho-educational videos that make use of analogies and props.

Dr. Smith is based in England and is a natural introvert. The goal of her videos is to educate, motivate, and inspire. She also hopes her videos will encourage parents to talk more openly with their children and teens about mental health.

Lindsay Fleming, LPC

  • TikTok Handle: @lindsay.fleminglpc
  • Occupation: Licensed Therapist
  • Topics Covered: ADHD
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 417,500

Lindsay Fleming is a licensed professional counselor who is open about her own struggles and who mostly posts videos about tips and tricks for living with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Shane Birkel, LMFT

  • TikTok Handle: @shanebirkel
  • Occupation: Couples Therapist
  • Topics Covered: Relationships, communication strategies for couples
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 252,800

Shane Birkel is a couples therapist who runs a livestream every Monday at 3 p.m. EST to do a Q&A session and answer questions about relationships. He also has his own podcast.

Birkel is the TikTok therapist to follow if you are looking to improve communication in your relationship. Some of the topics he has covered in his videos include introversion vs. extroversion, healthy relationships, first therapy sessions, different styles of communication, and narcissism and relationships.

Nadia Addesi, RSW

  • TikTok Handle: @nadiaaddesi
  • Occupation: Psychotherapist and Registered Social Worker
  • Topics Covered: Depression, anxiety, social anxiety, toxic family, childhood trauma, relationships, procrastination
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 3 million

Psychotherapist Nadia Addesi runs the boutique wellness clinic Evolve and Bloom in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada. Nadia uses her videos to help those who can't afford therapy or for whom therapy is not a good fit.

She provides quick tips and tricks based on research evidence or her own personal experiences in order to help others feel less alone and more capable of working through their mental health struggles.

Some of her advice includes practicing self-care such as making social connections or doing something that makes you happy.

Shani Tran, LPCC

  • TikTok Handle: @theshaniproject
  • Occupation: Therapist
  • Topics Covered: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trauma, experiences of black therapists and clients, culturally inclusive therapy
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 135,200

Therapist Shani Tran is focused on exploring the BIPOC experiences giving or receiving therapy. She first joined in January 2020 to post dancing videos, but when she started posting about therapy and what it's like to have a Black therapist, her content started to go viral.

Micheline Maalouf, LMHC, NCC

  • TikTok Handle: @micheline.maalouf
  • Occupation: Therapist
  • Topics Covered: Variety of topics (i.e., a different topic is covered each month such as trauma)
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 1 million

Micheline Maalouf is a licensed therapist in Orlando who specializes in anxiety and complex trauma. She chooses to make videos about a different topic each month to help her followers with a variety of different issues.

Some of the topics she has covered include breathing for anxiety, how to get out of trauma bonds, panic attack tips, intrusive thoughts, red flags in relationships, depression, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Justin Puder, PhD

  • TikTok Handle: @amoderntherapist
  • Occupation: Therapist/Psychologist
  • Topics Covered: Relationships, grief, anxiety, social anxiety, communication
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 180,200

Justin Puder, PhD is a therapist/psychologist based on Florida who uses humor and jokes in his videos to help educate viewers on a variety of topics. Some of the topics that he has covered include labeling thoughts, overcoming social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, active listening, and anxious vs. intrusive thoughts.

Marquis Norton, PhD

  • TikTok Handle: @drnortontherapy
  • Occupation: Licensed Professional Counselor
  • Topics Covered: Alcohol abuse, toxic relationships, coping skills
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 134,800

Marquis Norton uses TikTok to attract attention to his private practice in Hampton, Virginia, the demand for which is skyrocketing.

Some of the topics he has covered include positive affirmations for social anxiety, how to prioritize your mental health, seasonal depression, and the benefits of anxiety.

Melissa Shepard, MD

  • TikTok Handle: @doctorshephard_md
  • Occupation: Psychiatrist
  • Topics Covered: Mental health, sex, body positivity, mental health stigma
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 894,300

Psychiatrist Melissa Shepard is based in Maryland and covers a variety of mental health questions on her TikTok channel. Some of the topics she has covered in her videos include whether antidepressants work, how to practice mindfulness, how to deal with bad dreams, and the difference between ADD and ADHD.

Kojo Sarfo, DNP, PMHNP-BC

  • TikTok Handle: @dr.kojosarfo
  • Occupation: Psych DNP (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse)
  • Topics Covered: Confidence
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 595,900

Dr. Kojo Sarfo is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who talks about a variety of topics such as pre-menstrual syndrome, men's mental health, and how to boost your mood.

The goal of his account is to offer advice but also entertainment. Some other topics he has covered include ADHD screening, boundaries with friends, military mental health, and work relationships.

David Puder, MD

  • TikTok Handle: @dr.davidpuder
  • Occupation: Psychiatrist
  • Topics Covered: Attachment styles
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 110,800

Psychistrist and professor Dr. David Puder is known on TikTok for giving a behind the scenes look at what it's like being a psychiatrist, something that not a lot of mental health professionals have shared in the past. On his channel, he shares mental health tips to try and dispel misinformation and answer questions from the public.

In addition, Dr. Puder describes psychology experiments in ways that relate science to the real world. For example, he described the "Still Face" experiment and how parental neglect can have long-lasting effects on a child's development.

Dr. Puder argues that parents may watch his videos and think twice about being distracted by their cell phones, particularly those who are raising Gen Z teenagers. While Dr. Puder acknowledges that therapy is a big step, he offers more accessible help through his "Psychiatry & Psychotherapy" podcast and his Patreon community.

Dr. Courtney Tracy, LCSW, PsyD

  • TikTok Handle: @the.truth.doctor
  • Occupation: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Topics Covered: Addiction, mental health, depression, therapy (how to talk to your parents about going to therapy)
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 1.5 million

Dr. Courtney Tracy operates a drug rehab and mental health treatment center in Santa Barabara, California called Good Heart Recovery. On TikTok she offers advice on these topics and more. Dr. Tracy also discusses what to do if your family, culture, or support system is not supportive of your desire to go to therapy or has had bad experiences with therapy.

Dr. Tracy also runs an online community with memberships that are currently free of charge. While this community is not a substitute for therapy, it offers unlimited access to helpful courses, the opportunity to win private 1:1 educational sessions, attendance at live Q&As, and educational webinars. People who join the community are encouraged to explore and guide themselves toward better mental health.

Dr. Janine Kreft, PsyD

  • TikTok Handle: @kreftscouch
  • Occupation: Psychologist
  • Topics Covered: Holistic and spiritual topics, boundaries
  • Audience Size (as of February 2021): 697,400

Dr. Janine Kreft is a psychologist who uses the TikTok platform to talk about boundaries, trauma, healing, breathwork, locus of control, and other topics.

A Word From Verywell

Are you using TikTok to improve your mental health? While TikTok can be an excellent place to look for advice from mental health professionals, it's also important to realize that not everyone on the app is qualified to give advice. In addition, some videos may be harmful or triggering to those with mental health issues.

For example, topics such as self-harm and eating disorders can swing in the direction of promoting dangerous behaviors if content is not monitored. In addition, the advice that you receive from therapists on TikTok will be very general in nature, and may not be helpful to your specific situation.

TikTok is not a replacement or substitute for in-person or virtual therapy in a 1:1 session. In a personalized therapy session, you would also benefit from the therapeutic relationship and receiving feedback specific to you.

That being said, following any or all of the above TikTok therapists is a good first step or gateway toward deciding if therapy might be right for you and to also understand more about the way that your mind works.

While Generation Z is more open about talking about their mental health online, it can still be hard for this generation to ask for help when they need it. Many TikTok therapists also discuss how to talk to parents or others about going for therapy.

Regardless of which accounts you choose to follow, be sure that the mental health TikTok accounts that you take advice from are basing their tips and tricks on evidence-based practice. Most licensed providers must adhere to a strict code of conduct, which includes only sharing advice that is based on research or their own personal experience. While others such as life coaches or mindset coaches might also share valuable insights, they are not held to the same professional standards.

Furthermore, if anyone tries to reach out to you through direct message on TikTok to offer advice or therapy, know that this is not acceptable nor should you follow through. No reputable mental health professional will offer personalized advice through the app. On the other hand, some creators may take questions and answer them in a general, educational manner that helps all viewers with their issues.

By Arlin Cuncic
Arlin Cuncic, MA, is the author of "Therapy in Focus: What to Expect from CBT for Social Anxiety Disorder" and "7 Weeks to Reduce Anxiety."