Social media influencers globally are making a significant impact both on and beyond digital platforms. Beyond viral trends and cat videos, these platforms have evolved into powerful tools for promoting social good, supporting noble causes, and uniting communities, marking the dawn of a new era of activism. Social movements that previously relied heavily on offline activities can now leverage trending hashtags, photo-sharing, and online communities. Daily, we witness this through videos from compassionate individuals offering unbiased advice and innovative educators who blend creativity with authenticity in their teaching, promoting knowledge in an engaging and entertaining way.

Building on social media's potential to create impact, TikTok, a popular platform, recently introduced a unique Change Makers Programme, empowering creators to use #TikTokforGood. This global initiative showcases creators and non-profits making a meaningful difference in their communities through TikTok. To launch the program, TikTok announced its first global list of Change Makers, featuring 50 creators committed to positive change worldwide, including the UAE's inaugural Change Maker, Dr. Jana Bou Reslan.

Dr. Jana, an experienced university lecturer in Educational Psychology from Lebanon, has dedicated her social media presence to raising awareness about mental health challenges and providing solutions in the UAE. Through her TikTok account, she addresses stigma and stereotypes surrounding mental health, initiating discussions on sensitive topics like high-functioning anxiety, parenting, trauma, and setting healthy boundaries. Dr. Jana emphasizes the importance of good mental health for thriving communities, influencing areas from education to workplace productivity, and aims to highlight mental health's significance in the GCC, the Arab World, and beyond.

Selected for the Change Makers programme, Dr. Jana will receive six months of support to build engaged communities, reach new audiences, and unlock offline opportunities. TikTok will provide dedicated tools and donations to non-profit organizations supporting their causes, empowering creators to amplify their impact. The platform values small acts of kindness and their community impact, encouraging more creators to produce purpose-driven content. The selection process for TikTok Change Makers involved qualitative assessments, focusing on the content's positive impact on the community.

Dr. Jana's content encourages followers to share personal stories and promotes empathy and understanding on sensitive topics. Her early fascination with diverse learning and interaction styles led her to a career in psychology, becoming an authoritative voice on the subject. In today's digital age, she uses platforms like TikTok to advocate for mental health, recognizing social media's power in spreading awareness and promoting mental health.

However, the rise of social media has also brought challenges, such as the spread of misinformation about psychology. Dr. Jana highlights the dangers of self-diagnosis and the need to verify the credentials of individuals sharing mental health information. She advises cross-referencing with trusted sources and consulting licensed mental health professionals for accurate diagnosis and advice. While social media can effectively raise awareness, it's essential to avoid oversimplification and seek comprehensive information and professional guidance.

Dr. Jana advocates for promoting accurate, evidence-based information and encouraging critical thinking. Social media platforms should collaborate with certified professionals to highlight reliable content. Despite challenges, she sees potential in social media to spread knowledge and create meaningful change, making learning fun and accessible. TikTok's initiatives aim to extend this impact beyond the digital realm and foster meaningful change on the ground.

As TikTok strengthens the synergy between creators and non-profit organizations to drive grassroots-level change, it has introduced the TikTok Change Makers Grant, aiming to donate over $1 million to more than 30 global and local non-profit organizations supporting various causes. Whether these initiatives will effectively combat misinformation and other social media hazards remains to be seen.