Did you know that, according to the World Health Organization, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression? Although this means it’s more likely for someone in your inner circle to suffer from depression, most likely they will not speak up in fear of being ridiculed. But now Instagram, one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, has created a new feature to help those dealing with mental illness.
The new feature will allow users to anonymously flag a photo when they think someone needs help. Once the photo is flagged, the person will receive a message that 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.” After receiving this message, they will receive different options to get help.
In order to create messages that will seem helpful, rather than invasive, Instagram is working with organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress. At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don’t know how best to reach out,” Instagram’s Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine told Seventeen. “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 that reminder.”
Additionally, if you search for hashtags that are associated with self-harm, you will notice that most of them are banned, and for those that are still featured, support options will pop up.
We fervently applaud what Instagram is doing with this new feature! Although this social media platform has opened so many doors, and provided a space for people all over the world to connect, it can also be a factor in generating feelings of inadequacy or self-esteem issues. By adding this new feature, we hope that this will open up the conversation about mental illness and break down the stigma that surrounds it.
For those in crisis and in need of immediate help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255. Please remember that although it may not feel like it now, there is always help out there.