In mid-October, Instagram rolled out an important tool for mental health. Users will be allowed to anonymously flag posts which may contain troubling words or images. This can include posts about self-harm, depression, or other issues. Users with flagged posts will receive an in-app message which 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.”
Options will be shown on screen for the user. They can contact a helpline (which can vary based on the person’s location), talk to a friend, or get tips and support. These options will also be displayed to users who search for certain hashtags, generally those associated with self-harm. Some hashtags are banned from Instagram and searching doesn’t give any results. But for others, which may also be troubling, users will see a message which tells them options are available.
Instagram chief operating officer Marne Levine told Seventeen magazine, “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. 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.” She also talked about the importance of support networks and “building a culture of positivity.”
Instagram reportedly worked with groups like National Eating Disorders Association and The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, along with mental health experts and people who suffer from mental health problems themselves. Instagram also partnered with Seventeen magazine to promote the hashtag #PerfectlyMe for showing self-confidence and uniqueness. Seventeen also declared October seventeenth to be National Body Confidence Day.