Instagram's newly released feature is changing the game for mental illness awareness. A new feature had been implemented that allows a user scrolling in the app to flag pictures if they people that someone is in need of assistance.
The symptoms of depression and suicide are far too often overlooked. An estimated 350 million people world wide suffer from these issues. This makes it more likely that someone in your inner circle experiences these feelings. Due to the possibility of a misunderstanding or lack of empathy, some people choose not to speak out. They let people know of their problems in other ways, such as using poems or posting pictures.
Once you flag a post, Instagram sends a message to the poster of the photo: "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 offers options if the person chooses to seek help.
Outreach from a loved one or friend can make a huge difference. It could be the determining factor between life and death. Instagram clearly did their research, working with mental illness groups such as the Suicide Prevention Hotline. They wanted to make sure they approached the subject in the best way possible.
Instagram went as far as to even ban hashtags that are associated with self harm. Social media can be a great thing when used wisely. Sometimes, it creates feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
They are trying to open up the conversation, and I truly applaud them for it. We need to start talking about these things, because the longer they stay in the dark, the more people suffer. There is help out there, you just have to seek it out.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255