The empowering potential of evidence-based information and care leveraging YouTube for expertise amplification

Presented by:

  • Jessica DiVento Dzuban, Global Head of Mental Health, YouTube
  • Marjorie Morrison, CEO and Co-Founder, PsychHub
  • Rhett Power, Author and Contributor, Forbes

A few years ago, people tended to visit their doctor seeking health advice or help with a diagnosis. However, with long waitlists and difficulty getting an appointment, people are increasingly turning to the Internet as a trusted source of health information. YouTube’s data supports this. In 2021 alone, 180,000 health-related videos were uploaded to the video-sharing platform, which had a combined two billion views.1

While the internet fills the gaps left by a lack of accessibility to healthcare and health education, the accuracy of information shared online is difficult to moderate. Misinformation, particularly in health and medicine, is dangerous. To see the real-world effects of false information, look no further than the conspiracy theories surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant vaccine.

So, what can be done to ensure that people searching online for health information access accurate, reliable, and safe information?

During the 2023 Within Health Summit, Majorie Morrison of Psych Hub and Jessica DiVento Dzubsn of YouTube sat down with Rhett Power to discuss measures to ensure consumers access credible health information online.

The YouTube Health Shelf

Jessica explains that YouTube has recently launched the “Health Shelf” to help viewers make an informed decision on the creator of mental health (or other health) content they’re consuming. 

YouTube recognizes the importance of health information provided online is being provided by authoritative and trustworthy sources. To define the criteria for a health content creator to be an accredited source of information, YouTube initially worked with the American Public Health Association and the National Academy of Medicine.

As YouTube’s principles for verifying authoritative health sources expand outside  US content, the platform worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) for guidance on the global application of the Health Shelf principles. In the UK, YouTube worked with the NHS to develop an approach to informing which channels would be eligible for health features.

The principles for authoritative health sources apply to but are not limited to:

  • Healthcare organizations
  • Educational institutions
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Government organizations
  • Public health departments
  • Major hospitals
  • Individually licensed health professionals and physicians

Jessica explains that licensed professionals review health content to ensure that the information presented is evidence-based. 

YouTube has also added new features to some health-related searches and videos. Health source information panels on videos help consumers identify videos from authoritative sources, and the Health Shelf highlights videos from these sources when a user searches for specific health topics. These cues are aimed at helping people find and evaluate credible health information. This helps fight the spread of health misinformation and fake news.

Speaking of misinformation, when a consumer searches for a topic prone to misinformation or conspiracy theories, they may see information panels featuring links to independent and reputable third-party resources, such as the WHO. Furthermore, YouTube has policies in place to remove misinformation as well as to reduce low-quality content in their algorithms.

Successful YouTube mental health channels

The more quality and credible health content there is on YouTube, the more misinformation and stigma fade into the background. Some of Jessica’s favorite YouTube channels for mental health content include:

  • Therapy in a Nutshell: Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist Emma McAdam founded Therapy in a Nutshell to make mental health resources easier to access. She condenses therapy skills and psychological research into accessible bite-sized videos, spreading the message that while mental illness is debilitating it can be treated. Change, growth, and healing are possible.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP): An excellent resource for information about mental health in children, adolescents, and young adults. One of their popular playlists is “Asking for a Friend”, where young people can get expert advice on mental health topics in short, snappy videos. What makes the AAP channel so special is the vast number of videos available in Spanish.
  • Psych Hub: With their YouTube channel Psych Hub is on a mission to empower everyone to develop a better approach to mental health for themselves and others. Accessibility is key to the Psych Hub channel - the videos are animated to appeal to all audiences and feature diverse characters to help all communities feel represented.

What is Psych Hub?

Psych Hub was founded in 2018 to provide much-needed mental health resources to everyone who needs them, including mental health practitioners, everyday people, and the organizations that support them. They are committed to empowering people and organizations to foster a better approach to mental health for all through evidence-based educational content and links to specialized treatment.

Majorie explains that Psych Hub also aims to move behavioral health professionals from generalists to specialists, as different mental health conditions are not all treated in the same way. Specialization in treatment concerns symptoms and is relevant to: 

  • Age: For example, early childhood treatment differs significantly from adult treatment for many behavioral health disorders.
  • Communities: For example, the LGBTQ+ community, BIPOC communities, veterans, etc., may require specialized treatment.

According to Majorie, there are some significant benefits to specialized, evidence-based care. The client gets better symptom reduction, the provider experiences less burnout as they are not trying to be a “jack of all trades,” and overall, there is a cheaper cost of care as clients are less likely to re-enter treatment. 

What’s next?

While YouTube is rapidly becoming an essential resource for those looking for credible information on mental health, there is still more work to be done. For example, there is a need for more Spanish content, as well as content of ARFID and PICA. That said, Jessica is keen to stress that there is a wealth of trustworthy and engaging disordered eating content on the platform, but “we can still go further, and there is always going to be more work to do.”


  1. Somauroo, J. (2023, January 27). YouTube Health showcases U.K. strategy: 5 things we learned. Forbes. Accessed Jan 2024.