Instagram is the perfect place to post your favorite silly selfies or discover incredible food trends (i.e. Lisa Frank-inspired doughnuts).
But it's also sometimes a place where people post cries for help—and now there's something you can do if you see your friend post about self-harm, an eating disorder, or suicide.
Instagram is rolling out some extremely important tools this morning to help make the social media platform a safer place—and they just might save some lives in the process.
Now, if you see a friend post about self-harm, you can anonymously report it. The friend will get a message saying: "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." Then, there will be options that can be accessed directly through the app including contacting a helpline (which will vary by the user's location), talking to a friend or getting tips and support.
"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," says Instagram chief operating officer Marne Levine. "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."
Users will be led to that same support page if they search for a hashtag associated with self-injury. Some dangerous hashtags are banned from Instagram altogether—for example, if you try to type in #thinspo, you'll get zero results. But other terms fall into a gray area, and the new tools can help make sure the users who need help can get it.
The company worked with mental health experts and groups like National Eating Disorders Association and The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, along with real people with experience with eating disorders, self-harm or suicide, to come up with just the right language for the prompts.
Along with the new tools, Instagram is partnering with sister magazine Seventeen to launch a campaign today—on what we're declaring National Body Confidence Day—called #PerfectlyMe. On Instagram, the hashtag will highlight young women and men from the Instagram community who are rocking their self-confidence and embracing their own uniqueness, like Gan Chin Lin, a 17-year-old Singapore-based Instagrammer who found her passion for food and photography and used it to overcome her eating disorder. She posts the most adorable—yet healthy!—treats.
"#PerfectlyMe is a celebration of strength," Levine says. "It's about the strength of the support networks that we have seen grow steadily across Instagram, and the strength of individuals in these communities who are redefining beauty standards and building a culture of positivity."
So, post your best #PerfectlyMe moment and tag the support squad that makes you feel strong. Don't forget to tag @Seventeen, too—they'll be regramming readers all month long.
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