Note: this piece contains content that could be triggering regarding topics including self-harm, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Please read with care.
Instagram has been a bit of a double-edged sword in the world of self-esteem and mental health. It has a reputation of being a place where people are defined by images and rewarded by popularity through likes and follows. But for many of us, Instagram is also a bit more of an intimate setting. We open up a little more, and share our stories on this outlet more than alternate social media.
Today, Instagram made some subtle but important changes in the UK and it doesn’t involve puppy filters or an updated array of colour tints. These are changes you may not even catch on to until they have the power to change someone’s life.
In a seemingly saddened world, not all of us are expertly trained on how to deal with a cry for help from a friend (or stranger) over social media. But now, if you see a friend post something with darker emotional triggers, you can help in a careful and non-confrontational way.
Instagram has decided to do something in their power to spread a bit of awareness and not let the issues slide under the rug. They consulted organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to talk about how they could properly phrase and confront sensitivities though a message to users struggling. The new development allows you to anonymously flag content that may be triggering for support. Instagram will send them a message,
“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.”
It then proposes some resources including help line numbers, suggestions for specialists or gentle reminders to talk with friends. The app will also automatically alert this to users who use hash tags associated with self-harm.
Instagram’s COO Marne Levine told Seventeen magazine, “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.”
What a beautiful start to an ongoing conversation. We can expect these updates globally soon, but today also launches the dubbing of National Body Confidence Day where Instagram is encouraging users to celebrate their strength and individuality through their stories with the Hashtag #PerfectlyMe.
While sharing, liking, commenting, and following the world around you, it can be easy to forget the human touch that we all provide during moments of care. Instagram is taking the first step to help support those suffering through saddened times, but it’s only half the battle. Watch out for your friends and peers; sometimes the smallest acts of kindness make the largest impact.