By Ashanti Hamilton
Director of City of Milwaukee Office of Community Wellness and Safety
Mental health is not just a personal struggle. At least one in five adults suffer from mental illness in the United States. Americans are facing this public health crisis together, but they often feel alone. We need solutions. But what we want our leadership to recognize is that connecting busy Americans directly to education, our communities will continue to suffer. Working to ban TikTok, is a mistake – alienating mental health activism, education, and resource sharing on a global scale.
In Wisconsin alone, there are over 800,000 adults who have reported to have suffered from a mental health condition. More than half of that number did not receive treatment, there are countless more who go undiagnosed and untreated who are suffering in silence. Efforts to destigmatize mental health care, cost, geography, misinformation, and even being uninformed on available resources can impede individuals from accessing or even looking for help. As the Director of the Office of Community Wellness and Safety, I’ve seen firsthand how a lack of proper access and education on mental health resources can impact our community. Community leaders need to promote mental health awareness here in Milwaukee, and for my office, we can start on TikTok.
First and foremost is education and representation. We need to create more visibility about mental health and educate our community on the resources available. What a better way to do that than with one of the most widely utilized social media platforms?
Young adults aged 18 to 25 have the highest prevalence of mental health conditions among all American adults. They need support and community, and many have found that through social media. On TikTok, college students are sharing their struggles with mental health conditions like eating disorders and anxiety. Further, they are helping to spread awareness and resources.
And this crisis is not limited to Wisconsin. Across the country, millions are fighting their own battles. Luckily, TikTok is not limited to just those seeking help in Wisconsin. Generations of Americans across different states are building support systems on TikTok, providing our country with the mental health education that is often lacking in our schools and workplaces. Banning TikTok means sealing shut an opportunity for communication, understanding, and health.
We’ve entrusted our lawmakers to protect and provide support to their constituents. This must extend to mental health, but it cannot be done if they are looking to root out the very place so many Americans find community. We should not pass up the opportunity to leverage this social media platform to aid so many who are in need.