An estimated one in five adults in the United States experiences mental illness in a given year. Still, talking about mental illness can often be a cultural taboo, making it hard to openly discuss.
Thankfully, more and more social media platforms are breaking the ice and making mental health a priority. With its latest feature, Instagram is making the latest push in this area, as the photo sharing app has added a new addition to offer support for those going through a difficult time.
The new tool allows for users to anonymously notify Instagram of posts that show signs of possible self-harm or depression. Instagram then sends a message to that person offering different options to get help.
The messages, created in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the National Eating Disorders Association, were carefully made to be supportive rather than invasive. The initial message a person receives reads, “Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.”
The feature also redirects to a support page for anyone searching for hashtags associated with self-injury. Instagram has already banned many hashtags that promote self-harm such as “#thinspo,” a hashtag that has been associated with the glorification of eating disorders.
Marne Levine, Instagram’s chief operating officer, told Seventeen magazine that “these tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need the reminder.”
Photo: kaboompics, CC-BY
Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.