The Facebook subsidiary has introduced new tools and a video campaign featuring mental health influencers
A pic a day doesn’t always keep the blues away.
Instagram, the photo sharing platform, this week launched #HereForYou, a campaign which seeks to showcase how the Facebook subsidiary supports the struggle of those dealing with mental health issues. The move is pertinent as research suggests young adults tend to showcase only the best side of their lives on social media, leaving those in less sunny situations feeling even more alone.
“People who are isolated loners have gravitated social media because it offers the promise of feeling connected to the world,” says Beverly Hills psychotherapist Fran Walfish. “But these are not deep connections with the give-and-take of a relationship that nourishes and nurtures your soul.”
To help combat that, Instagram asked three social media influencers who have been active in combating the stigma around mental health to star in a promotional video. They include the filmmaker Elyse Fox of the Sad Girls Club account, which documented the “worst year of depression;” British anorexia survivor Sacha Cuddy and Luke Ambler, a former professional rugby player turned suicide prevention advocate.
Experts say that seeing others successfully fight against the stigma of conditions like depression and generalized anxiety can help. “If what is offered are step-by-step strategies that can resolve the problem, that’s obviously very helpful,” says Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent.” But she thinks it may be negative if already-unhappy social media users flock to posts by others who have difficulty grappling with similar issues. “The risk is that they think ‘life sucks for everybody, so why bother?’” she says.
The social media giant also notes that it has recently introduced tools to help those suffering from mental illness. Last fall, it allowed the anonymous reporting of posts from users who might need treatment and counseling. Instagram then refers these potential patients to potential health care providers. Instagram co-founder and chief executive Systrom said in a statement announcing the campaign that his company continues to work with advocacy organizations like the National Eating Disorder Association.
“From dedicated accounts around an issue to unique hashtags adopted by groups, these communities are helping to make illnesses that are often invisible to friends and family visible through photos and videos,” Systrom said.
Instagram will know it has to tread carefully. It has previously been under fire for censoring body positive hashtags like #curvy, though it defended that decision by noting that pornography sharers had claimed that tag. Instagram parent Facebook has also been struggling to deal with a disturbing wave of suicide videos livestreamed on its Live service.
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