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Support Messaging Makes Instagram a New Tool for Mental Health

Posted by Brian Spence on Nov 21, 2016 8:00:00 AM

Mental Health, Behavioral HealthIn the digital lifestyle of modern living, people’s lives play out in real time on the Internet. People readily post their feelings and emotions on various social media platforms. Those posts encompass many of the positive sentiments that people feel, but it also includes the lows that people experience in life. One social media platform is trying to use the emotional draw of its technology as a way of supporting the mental health issues that some people experience.

Instagram has added a new feature that allows its users to anonymously flag a photo posted by someone who might be in some form of emotional distress.

According to Hello Giggles, an online community for women, when a photo is flagged, the user receives a message saying: “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 support message is followed by different help suggestions, such as a helpline that varies depending on where the user is located. Instagram users can also find a support page by searching for a hashtag connected with self harm or injury, according to Seventeen magazine.

“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,” Instagram Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine told Seventeen.

Most of the hashtags associated with self-harm have been banned from Instagram. The use of some other self-harm hashtags on the platform will bring up support messages. The National Eating Disorders Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are two of the organizations that are working with Instagram to create positive, helpful messages. For many people, mobile phones are the digital thread that connect their lives.

To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Behavioral and Mental Health sections of our blog.

Image courtesy of Brilliantist Studio /


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Topics: Mental Health, Behavioral Health

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