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The Gambling, Gaming & Technology Use Community of Interest brings together addiction and mental health service providers, researchers and subject matter experts in the fields of gambling, technology/Internet use and video gaming to collaborate and share knowledge on emerging trends and clinical best practices.

armchair diagnosing is dangerous

In the article linked above, they discuss one social media influencer who has created an 8 part documentary series examing the perceived mental health issues of another social media influencer.

One of the concerns that gets examined is the idea that they lump bad behaviour in with mental health issues.  This can have the impact of increasing stigma for those who deal with mental health issues.

Another concern noted is that the one influencer is talking about the other influencer and pathologizing his behaviour.  There have been many instances in the Trump era, for example, where the press will be discussing his behaviour, they have a psychiatrist/psychologist on talking about that behaviour, with a disclaimer running on the screen: "Dr. X has not treated this person" and again, they are categorizing his behaviours as mental health issues.

A third concern, is that some viewers (in the millions) may be watching these videos and take the information as accurate or as true news.  This can again be stigmatizing for the person who has mental health issues.  Certain terms get tossed around in popular media or popular culture which are untrue or are quite difficult to diagnose or rare and suddenly the media is diagnosing everyone in the news.

I fear that  the young person with struggles, sees how some celebrities get villified and labelled with a diagnosis and doesn't seek support.  

If news casters and social media influencers would stick to describing behaviour and not labelling and armchair diagnosing then I wonder what the impact would be.

What do you think?  Have you had any reactions to armchair diagnosing in the news lately?

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There are so many horrible things and misinformation on the internet regarding mental health and addictions. In a sea of confusion, it's hard to find the truth. I think it's critical for those of us working in this field to stop using jargon and psychobabble to reach the general population. People are looking for credible information that they can understand and share on social media.

I saw a "problem solving" cartoon the other day that showed someone who hung himself and the other person made a swing out of the deceased. I posted about how wrong this was and received no response. I also notified FB that this was concerning. The fact that someone would post that as a joke is incredibly shocking to me, especially given the high rates of suicide in First Nations. It was posted by a First Nations person. This was the worst, but there are examples everyday.

The fact that people don't seem to know what is hurtful or unhelpful at best, really reflects the challenges of reducing stigma. We really need to get our messages out there in user friendly ways. Corporations and for-profits seem to know how to market and target, why don't we? Our impact/influence depends on it.


That is a horrific image that was posted on FB.  I can't believe that nothing was done even after you notified FB.  It's interesting that those platforms (ie FB and IG) will remove and mark as inappropriate a picture of a woman breast feeding her child but not what you reported.

I was listening to a podcast where people who have diagnosed OCD talked about their experiences, shared parts of their daily lives that have been impacted by their OCD and talked about how hurtful it is when others casually say that they have OCD in a joking manner or label a behaviour that is clearly not OCD.

In the same way that "someone" got the media to stop saying drunk driving accident and call it a crash - as it was not an accident as someone got behind the wheel of the car after drinking, I feel as though we need that same kind of advocacy with media and tv/movie writers.  Mental health and addictions aren't fodder for comedy.  There have been some platforms that have done a decent job of demonstrating what the issues are without making a mockery of the person/character experiencing it.

Thanks for your comments Alison, I totally agree with you and I'm sad that you were subjected to such a terrible image on so many levels.


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