People use social media for all different reasons—some, for networking, or for staying up to date on current events, while others use sites like Instagram to present carefully curated pictures of their lives. With an increasing focus on social media and its overwhelming popularity, pretty much everyone has at least one active profile. And for all the trolls or people who use these sites to brag about their perfect lives, there are some people who use social media as a cry for help.
Now, Instagram has added a feature for these instances, where people can anonymously report photos that mention self-harm or hint at the poster’s need for help. Once their photo is reported, the user will receive a message stating, “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 app then provides the user with the ability to talk with a friend, contact a helpline or seek mental health advice and support. Searching specific keywords and hashtags, specifically about self-harm or suicide, will also re-direct users to this information.
Launched today, the new additions are meant to strengthen the Instagram community and offer support for people who might not seek it themselves, and Instagram worked specifically with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the National Eating Disorders Association to ensure the feature would actually work.
“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,” said Instagram COO Marne Levine, in an interview with 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.”