Thanks to heightened levels of awareness and open discussion, we’re becoming well-versed in the seriousness of mental health and the debilitating effects it has on a persons life. While ‘traditional’ issues resulting in depression (i.e issues within the family, a relationship, financial problems, health problems) should continue to be treated, it’s important for us as a society to understand that as society changes and adapts, so too will the conditions that cause depression.
We must have sympathy with younger generations today: they don’t know the world without phones, instant communication, social media (in particular), and now even virtual and augmented reality – all of which have significant implications for their psychological and emotional state.
Taking a positive step forward in tackling issues around mental health and social media, Instagram has introduced a special help feature for anyone using the social media platform that may need emotional assistance. The platform – which is largely based on vanity and aesthetics – will now allow users to anonymously flag another user’s image if they think it could potentially be harmful or concerning.
Once the image is flagged, Instagram will automatically send the person a private 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”, followed by a list of charities available and support helplines. Similarly, Instagram will also intervene with any users who use derogatory hashtags such as #SelfHarm.
Speaking about the positive move to Seventeen, Instagram’s Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine said that “we’re listening 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. 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”.
According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, there are an estimated 350 million people across the globe – of all ages – who suffer from mental health related issues.