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Mental Health Getting Extra Instagram Support

Updated on October 19, 2016

No One Lives A Perfect Life

It seems like the more technology evolves, we are becoming slaves to it. There are millions of people who engage in the fine art of the selfie daily, for instance, and there are those who spend an awful lot of time scouring various groups and images to make comments on them. It's very easy to think, with all of the smiling faces and funny pictures, people live a relatively perfect existence simply based on an image, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

It's been long documented that those with mental health conditions do what they can to hide it, whether that means by becoming incredibly busy or smiling or whatever the chosen coping strategy is. Instagram seems to have recognized this and has now implemented a safety feature which may ultimately help those who might be struggling with a mental health condition.

Instagram Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine said the creation of the tool, which is triggered whenever someone tries searching for a banned hashtag such as #thinspo, was borne out of a need to help people realize that they were not as alone during a time of need as they thought.

"At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don't know how best to reach out," 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."

Facebook also has a suicide prevention tool, which allows the user several options to select from. This tool was rolled out in February 2016 as a way of allowing users to report worrying content; those who may have made the worrisome post are messaged and asked what sort of support they would prefer to be connected to.

According to the mental health charity MIND, which is based in the UK, one in four people will experience some sort of mental health condition yearly. In a world driven by social media, which often features images of seemingly unattainable beauty and lifestyles, there's little wonder as to why companies like Instagram and Facebook considered rolling out tools to aid those with mental health concerns.

Even more alarming, perhaps, is the idea that people are now regularly searching images of self-harm, to the point that there have been published studies about the phenomenon.

Yes, no one lives a perfect life, but do we need the tool that Instagram has just rolled out?

You Are Not Alone

A Reminder May Be All That's Needed

Sometimes, when we see someone struggling, we're not always sure of what to do. Words may not seem like enough, and sometimes, we get worried that we simply won't have the right words to help the person appropriately.

The tool that will ultimately help Instagram users who are searching images of self-harm could go a long way towards helping those who might be struggling with self-harm, an eating disorder or suicidal ideation. Those sorts of mental health issues can be very isolating, but even at our most isolated, there is a tendency to go online. Instagram continues to grow in popularity; the app saw a growth of 100 million users from September 2015 to September 2016. Facebook's number of active users would be equivalent to greater than the population of China; at 1.89 billion, Facebook continues to slay the competition.

These sorts of numbers boggle the mind, but what it comes down to is this; even though mental health conditions can be incredibly isolating, social media is not. It's a quieter way of reaching out that people with mental health conditions did not previously have, and that means the tools provided by Instagram and Facebook could go a long way towards helping resolve some of the pressures involved with mental wellness at times.

One of the worst things that can happen with mental health conditions is that it becomes all too easy to forget that you have a support system to draw on should things become challenging and that you aren't alone. If these tools for Instagram and Facebook ultimately get triggered, the potential for helping millions of individuals is staggering.

There are those that may question the validity of the involvement of social media apps in the fight for mental wellness, but why not draw on social media to try and make things better? The key term is "social" - meaning people - so why not draw on a tool that's designed for two of the most popular social media apps to use to express concern for one another? While some may be reluctant to see the benefit, the fact of the matter is there are a lot of kids out there who will not disclose to their families or loved ones when they are struggling, and then it becomes too late; allowing a tool to be used that's built in to social media may be all it takes for those who deal predominantly with apps like Instagram and Facebook to remember that there are support systems all around that can help.

There Is Support, Always


Mental Health Via Instagram


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