Did you know? January is Mental Wellness Month. As of 2015, 1 in 5 United States adults experiences a mental illness in any given year. In the grand scheme of things, that equates to 43.8 million adults, though the statistics aren’t much different for children and teens. Out of the adults affected, research estimates that 50% experience symptoms of mental illness by age 14. But does social media have anything to do with this ever-increasing issue?
It’s a possibility. The realness of social media addiction, internet trolls, and FOMO have skyrocketed with each platform’s growth. But, with the growth of the negative, the positives have grown, too.
Every day, social media networks are striving to provide better tools to protect their users from hurtful things online. Let’s take a look at how our favorite platforms are tackling mental health issues:
This social front runner was one of the first platforms to make an effort to combat mental health. In June 2016, Facebook announced that users have the capability of reporting at-risk posts to their Help Center. Or, if users opt to reach out to friends on their own, they offer an assortment of resources. They include a suggested prompt for addressing the situation on their own, too.
Additionally, Facebook’s Help Center has a variety of resources available to make those advocating for at-risk users more comfortable doing so. Facebook’s Safety Center also provides parents and teens with the tools to combat cyber-bullying, which is a huge step for social platforms.
Read Facebook’s full statement on their Suicide Prevention tools here.
Twitter has put reliable resources in the hands of those affected by a mental illness, cyber-bullies, or trolls. In August of 2016, they announced a filtering feature that enables individuals to block offensive words, users, and account activity from their notifications timeline.
Like Facebook, Twitter also provides resources for users who are feeling attacked, see at-risk posts, or are worried about a friend on social media. Similarly to Facebook, if a user’s posts are flagged, someone from their support team will reach out to check on their safety.
Lastly, we have Instagram. This photo-sharing platform has combined Facebook and Twitter’s resources to give users complete control over their experience. In December, Instagram announced their intention to allow users to not only block offensive content in comments and posts, but also give them the capability of disabling comments completely.
This is a huge move for the social platform, where it is said that most users garner their following by comments and likes between accounts. Instagram also took it a step further by allowing users to revoke following permission from accounts users want to block.
While these moves are a step in the right direction, it’s only the beginning, both online and off. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, don’t be afraid to ask for help. And if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, contact the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately. Remember – you are valued, and you are not alone in your fight. To learn more about how you can join the movement against mental health stigma, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness website today.