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350,000,000 people deal with depression, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide. Depression is clearly a global problem facing everyone. That’s why Instagram recently added a feature that will make reaching out to a friend in need much easier.
The new feature allows users to flag a photo when they think someone needs help. However, they can do it anonymously which will allow more people to feel comfortable using it. Once the picture gets flagged, the person receives a 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.” Instagram then includes different options for the user to get help.
Instagram also took an extra step. To make sure the messages seem helpful and encouraging rather than intrusive and unsettling, Instagram works with organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
“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.” Marne Levine, Instagram Chief Operating Officer
Not only is this new feature going to help people struggling with depression, but it also empowers friends and family to take some helpful action. Even more, it’s another sign that people are slowly starting to ‘get it.’ They’re learning that mental illness is not only common but that it takes multiple approaches and innovative solutions to help someone survive.
It’s excellent that Instagram is taking this step and, hopefully, other social networks will start to come up with out-of-the-box approaches to mental illness as well. The more people try new tools to help others through this difficult time, the better.