Social media is sometimes criticized as a platform that breeds unhealthy comparison with friends and strangers. However, for Mental Health Awareness Month, one of the most widely used platforms is using its online community to address issues that millions struggle with every day.
Today, Instagram is launching the #HereForYou campaign to help users find resources and support online and offline for how to get help with preventing and recovering from mental illnesses. The one-minute spot features Instagram users talking about their past struggles with eating disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts. However, rather than hiring social influencers that have hundreds of thousands of followers, Instagram’s spot features three regular people.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a mental health condition during their life.
“I knew that something was off but I didn’t want to think about it because I didn’t want to feel like an outcast,” Elyse Fox, a 27-year-old user of the platform, says in the new spot.
Along with the flagship hashtag for the campaign, Instagram is also highlighting several others, including #ItsOkayToTalk, #MentalHealthMatters, #RecoveryIsPossible, #SadGirlsClub, #EndTheStigma, #SelfLoveClub and #EDWarrior. It’s also put together a list of resources for finding support in various countries. (In the U.S., it highlights groups such as the National Network to End Domestic Violence, ConnectSafely, the National Eating Disorders Association and The Trevor Project.)
In a blog post, Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom pointed out that half of all chronic mental illness in the U.S. begins by age 14. He said that if users see a post from someone that might need support, they can report it anonymously, and the next time the user logs into the app, Instagram will connect them with organizations that can offer assistance.
“Every day on Instagram, we see people share their mental health journeys and connect with communities of support,” Systrom wrote. “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.”