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Home arrow News arrow Harvard and TikTok Stars Collaborate for Trustworthy Mental Health Content

Harvard and TikTok Stars Collaborate for Trustworthy Mental Health Content

HealthReporter author Nadzeya Sankovich
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
Last update: October 19, 2023
1 min read 662 Views 0 Comments
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Harvard and TikTok Stars Collaborate for Trustworthy Mental Health Content

Key Takeaways

  • Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health joined forces with top TikTok influencers to promote better mental health information.
  • Their teamwork led to an additional 800,000 views of evidence-based mental health posts.

Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health recognized a big opportunity on TikTok. To improve the quality of mental health content, they started a project with big-name TikTokers. 

Amanda Yarnell, senior director of the Center for Health Communication, pointed out that platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube are where people go for information. To tap into this, they tried to equip influencers with the right knowledge.

Amanda Yarnell, senior director of the Chan School’s Center for Health Communication
Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

Harvard researchers selected around 100 influencers. Half of them were given digital toolkits with key mental health facts and advice meant to guide influencers to share solid, research-backed content. 

And the effort paid off. As a result of those digital toolkits, Yarnell and her colleagues observed a 3% increase in the likelihood of 42 influencers posting evidence-based content. That means it was viewed 800,000 times more than usual.

Specific influencers like Rachel Havekost, a mental health advocate from Seattle, and Trey Tucker, a therapist who shares insights while doing farm work, were among those who got Harvard’s invite. 

At first, some were skeptical, thinking the outreach might be a prank. Luckily, many came on board after realizing the genuine intention.

At a recent meeting, Yarnell and her colleague, Matt Motta from Boston University, shared the successful results. As much as toolkits played a role, another invaluable outcome was relationship building. Harvard researchers and influencers found common ground, opening up future collaborations.

The Harvard initiative shows how social media platforms can disseminate vital health information when they’re backed by credible sources. However, who was truly helping whom? 

While promoting her book on toxic relationships, influencer Ms. Mahler reflected on her academic allies with a hint of sadness. “Harvard has this abundant knowledge base,” she noted, “if they can just find a way of connecting to the people doing the digesting.”

Ms. Mahler observed they’d devote a decade to research, only to have their findings minimally recognized or fail to make a widespread impact.

“My heart kind of breaks for those people,” she remarked.

Sources

  1. Barry, E. (2023, October 16). Harvard Cozies Up to #MentalHealth TikTok. The New York Times.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/10/16/health/mental-health-tiktok-harvard.html
  2. Partnering with social media influencers to boost mental health. (2023, October 18). News.
    https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/partnering-with-social-media-influencers-to-boost-mental-health/
Written by Nadzeya Sankovich
Nadzeya Sankovich is the Vice President of Communications at Health Reporter. Previously a professional journalist, she continues to write scientific articles and conduct research. With a background in sociology and medicine, she has worked with various healthcare organizations, from charities to telemedicine platforms.

Nadzeya is also a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and a volunteer for a non-profit organization that helps underserved communities. Through her work, she empowers people to take charge of their health and well-being.
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