New Instagram Feature Supports Mental Health

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Refinery29

Instagram releases a new feature that changes things for mental health.

According to The World Health Organization, around 35 million people suffer from depression each year. Many of us know someone who suffers from depression, some of us have suffered ourselves. Together, we spend time working on understanding, accepting and developing ways to work with this illness and provide support wherever it's needed.

In this day and age, social media takes over an enormous slice of our lives. We're constantly checking in, tweeting, adding a Snapchat filter to our daily look -- the tech industry has turned us into a monster of sorts. A being that is naturally consumed by social internet interaction, addicted to the drug we've come to know as free wifi. These social networks that take up so much of our day-to-day lives know that they have an effect on our well-being, our mental health.

Instagram has stepped forward in an effort to better the mental health of their own users. It is understood that millions of people suffer from mental illness and they want to create an environment that is accepting, helpful and proactive. Because of this, they have recently introduced a new flagging feature. This feature allows a person to flag another user's photo when they think someone may need help. Once the image is flagged, that user will receive an anonymous message reading, 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," followed by a menu of options for help. Additionally, you might notice that some self-harm hashtags have been banned altogether.

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In order to make certain that they are not crossing any boundaries, Instagram has teamed up with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the National Eating Disorders Association. In an interview with Seventeen Magazine, the COO of Instagram Marne Levine said, "“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.”

Collectively, it's important to understand the impact this change has on the Instagram community. While it may seem small to some, this simple act showing that someone cares is truly monumental. This new feature will allow people to understand that someone is noticing. Someone cares.

For those in crisis and in need of immediate help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255.