What does "SH" mean on TikTok? Mental health slang explained

SH acronym on TikTok alludes to a mental health issue (image via Getty)
"SH" acronym on TikTok alludes to a mental health issue (image via Getty)

Acronyms have become a permanent feature of our everyday lingo, and they inform how this generation communicates, with TikTok being the initiator for most abbreviations. It is likely that you have seen the abbreviation "SH" consistently being used on the short-form video streaming entertainment app and might be wondering what it means. If you think it is similar to SMH, you'd be disappointed to learn that you're wrong.

Trigger warning: The content of this article deals with mental health concerns and can be sensitive to some readers. Discretion is strongly advised.

Acronyms are used often on social media apps (image via Getty/Unknown)
Acronyms are used often on social media apps (image via Getty/Unknown)

The popularity of TikTok slang is reflective of how digital language has seeped into our in-person conversations. Curiously enough, the most common slang comes in the form of abbreviations, even though the app does not have a character limit.

Even then, it is interesting that Twitter has not developed an alphabet for itself despite having a 280-character limit per post, which previously permitted only 140 characters. The TikTok generation, however, has managed to change the way we speak.


What does "SH" on TikTok refer to?

The social media app serves as a safe space for many (image via Getty/Mayada S)
The social media app serves as a safe space for many (image via Getty/Mayada S)

The abbreviation "SH" is often used in TikTok videos, and it usually connotates "self-harm." The idea of using the abbreviated version instead of the whole word is to inform users that the original poster recognizes self-harm to be a sensitive topic and believes that mental health issues should be taken seriously.

Though the app is popular for its fun clips and dance videos, it is also a powerful platform for voicing concerns like mental health and safety, with the hashtag "mentalhealth" being used over a billion times, garnering over 14.6 billion views. Many users regularly take to TikTok to share stories and/or lessons about their struggles and how they cope with the difficulties of their journey.

There are also therapists on the platform who offer advice and suggestions on caring for oneself. The pandemic brought with it a rise in mental health issues that stemmed from fear, isolation, stress, and lack of resources, which naturally called for a need to target eudemonia.

Post-Pandemic, it has become important to focus on Mental health (image via Getty Images/Unknown)
Post-Pandemic, it has become important to focus on Mental health (image via Getty Images/Unknown)

Similar to the use of "SH," the topic of mental wellness is being treated with care and caution on the social media platform. Using the acronym tells viewers who are at risk of being triggered that they can choose whether or not to continue watching the said video instead of being caught off-guard by its content.

The app is often considered a safe space for people to share their stories and find like-minded folks who have struggled with similar issues. Most videos that use the hashtag "mentalhealth" or the acronym "SH" usually provide help and resources that may benefit someone else. They are often affirming and kind, and represent all types of struggles.


TikTok has become a dominating app among other social media platforms because of its algorithm, which tends to push feel-good content, even though some are more entertaining than informative. Regardless, people use the app to share ways to take care of themselves such as practicing yoga, journalling, fitness, mindfulness, healthy eating, etc.

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Edited by Susrita Das
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