How Social Media is Demystifying ADHD

A head silhouette with ADHD in colourful block letters surrounded by spiralling pipe cleaners.

By Charlie Simmons

Generation Z has more freedom to discuss and find support for their mental and emotional health than older generations, and social media is a major contributor to that freedom. Previous generations didn’t openly discuss seeking treatment due to a lack of information, lack of access and stigma surrounding invisible disabilities. Gen Z, on the other hand, has benefitted from the anonymity afforded by the internet to connect with others who need mental and emotional support. Platforms like Facebook, YouTube and TikTok allow neurodivergent people to create interconnected and supportive communities where they can share their experiences. One such divergence that has been gaining a lot of attention among Gen Z is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). One in 20 Australians have ADHD, adding up to about 1 million people. Through my personal online forays, I have found supportive online resources that have helped me to accept my suspicion that I may have ADHD.

My struggle to seek treatment

I’ve been looking for an ADHD diagnosis for a couple of years now. Unfortunately, current circumstances have made finding help incredibly bewildering. Patients need to find both a GP and a psychiatrist who are knowledgeable in ADHD to ensure they get the proper treatment. According to psychiatrist Dr Steven Chau, the disruption of daily routines brought on by the COVID-19 lockdowns have resulted in more people realising they have ADHD, because people with ADHD tend to operate better with structure. The increased demand coupled with a shortage of psychiatrists has forced many psychiatrists to close their books to new patients. This puts ADHD patients seeking treatment onto long waitlists that make it hard for them to get mental health help. Since lockdowns started, people who hadn’t previously displayed troubles with attention, executive function or emotional regulation started to suspect they have ADHD. The number of potentially misdiagnosed patients would cause an even longer delay for ADHD patients already on waitlists.

Managing ADHD symptoms by yourself is overwhelming without access to an expert on the condition. Since childhood I’ve had difficulty focusing on projects and tasks. This has caused me anxiety that only exacerbates my inability to finish tasks on time. If I had access to a physician who could tell me whether I have ADHD, I wouldn’t have had to perform so much guesswork in getting proper mental and emotional health treatment. I would have a clear direction on how to improve my quality of life through proper medicine and support.

Finding comfort

A respite during my struggle to find an ADHD diagnosis is a Facebook group called ADHD Melbourne Community Group. Users can ask questions about receiving treatment or any doctors they are considering. They then get responses from people who have gone through the process. It’s important that people who either have or suspect they have ADHD do their due diligence in finding medical professionals. Current mental health training practices make it unlikely for GPs, psychiatrists and psychologists to have much practical experience in treating ADHD. The long wait times and high costs of private doctors mean members of Gen Z can’t afford to waste time and money on a doctor who doesn’t recognise ADHD and/or can’t provide the proper treatment.

Members of the Facebook group use their own experiences to tell you which doctors are most knowledgeable in ADHD and the most affordable for patients. The group’s users also share personal stories about some of their daily struggles with ADHD. Stories describing the difficulties of completing tasks, or being productive in general, are the most common personal posts I’ve noticed.

These posts make my struggles in school and adult life feel legitimate. In high school, I was often frustrated by how much homework I’d get because I couldn’t complete tasks in class on time. Today, I’m hard on myself for how much time I spend procrastinating on important tasks when I know better. Motivation just doesn’t come to me unless I’m stressed, and that’s incredibly frustrating. When strangers on Facebook share stories about their own procrastination and organisation struggles, I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with tasks that I assumed were so easy for of all my classmates. This group makes me feel supported and validated after a long time of thinking I’m ‘lazy’.

An ADHD-friendly Facebook group

Validation of my struggles is one of the most valuable things I’ve received in my journey to understand ADHD. Once, my mum told me that she thought ADHD could be a superpower. She tried to say that ADHD could be a boon rather than a burden if I had a positive diagnosis. For some reason, this approach to ADHD didn’t make me feel understood. It praised the unique advantages of ADHD, but it neglected the hurdles that prevent me from using those advantages. Hyperfocus can help me concentrate but cultivating the initial motivation is fickle. More than this, my struggle with emotional regulation can make me blow up at people unintentionally. My difficulty with focusing and tendency to lose my temper lower my self-confidence and cause me stress. I don’t feel like a superhero when I can only see the obstacles ADHD brings me.

ADHD people are more motivated when they receive immediate rewards, so being able to find information on seeking treatment quickly, without distractions, is a big plus. The Facebook group has platform specific features that make overcoming obstacles, like distraction, easier. The group’s page has a ‘Popular topics in posts’ section that narrows down the Facebook slush pile to just posts related to helping you manage ADHD. The most popular topics at the time of writing this article are: ‘Best ADHD Books’, ‘Medication’ and ‘Getting Diagnosed’. Similarly,  face-to-face interaction requires quick thinking, which leaves little time for ADHD brains to determine an appropriate response. The Facebook group enables users to communicate through texts and posts, which gives them time to compose their messages and consider their tone. It’s never hard to talk to people or find what you need on the ADHD Melbourne Community Group.

ADHD influencers

Individual social media users also offer welcoming and knowledgeable spaces for discussing ADHD. K.C. Davis, a licensed counsellor, has a TikTok account under the name Domesticblisters. She uses short one-to-two-minute videos to address viewer questions about neurodivergence, including ADHD. She also shares practical tips on how to keep your place clean when you’re living with ADHD. Meanwhile, on YouTube, actress Jessica McCabe runs a YouTube channel called How to ADHD. McCabe’s videos provide step-by-step advice for common obstacles ADHD people face or break down stigmas surrounding its treatment. For example, one video features an interview with an ADHD-treating paediatrician who addresses and challenges common misconceptions around using stimulant medication to treat ADHD.

Davis and McCabe present information with the same emotional vulnerability demonstrated in the Facebook group’s personal posts. The difference between them and the Facebook group, however, is that they supplement their stories with fact-based strategies for managing ADHD symptoms. These two women have been praised by ADHD non-profits as ADHD social media influencers, because of the large number of followers who rely on them for information about ADHD. People who talk about ADHD openly on social media offer a welcoming introduction to those who are diagnosed or self-diagnosed. The personable nature of Davis and McCabe’s videos can make it easier for social media savvy Gen Z-ers to identify ADHD-adjacent behaviours in themselves and take the next step by doing their own research.

Social media has become a unifying platform for people with ADHD. Lockdown has increased Gen Z’s desire to seek treatment for invisible neurodivergent conditions like ADHD. Long waitlists mean that people who either have ADHD or are seeking a diagnosis need communities and resources where they can find guidance and support in the meantime. Social media has been a big help to me and other members of Gen Z. The platforms and social influencers have provided tools for finding specialists, advice for managing challenges, and, most importantly, a feeling of validation. Social media creates a unified community for people who have long felt isolated because of something they didn’t understand. If you’re curious, check out these resources. You might find you relate to more than a few people who are just starting to understand themselves and realising they need—and deserve—help.


While all the resources here are intended to be helpful and engaging, they are not a substitute for professional medical attention. If you need help with your psychological and emotional health, please contact your GP to establish a Mental Health Care Plan and to discuss a reference for a psychiatrist or psychologist. UniMelb students can access free counselling services or seek mental health treatment from Health Service (they accept Bupa OSHC insurance for international students). If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, contact Lifeline, Headspace or (for First Nations Australians) 13YARN.

Charlie Simmons is a Melbourne University student who is currently studying a Master of Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing. He is fascinated by all things pop-culture and aspires to be a writer/editor for Arts and Entertainment. More of Charlie’s work can be found under his profiles at FanFiction (caffeine fiend779) and Wattpad (goldenchuckla).

Cover photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels. Used under Pexels free license.

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