Snapchat Launches Mental Health Feature

The social platform is introducing a new feature called “Here For You” to support users who may be having mental-health issues.

By Sandy Cohen
February 14, 2020

Despite its connective capacities and abundance of adorable cat videos, social media can be a troubling place. It’s rife with cyberbullying, triggers FOMO and may increase social isolation, depression and anxiety.

Snapchat — which reaches 90 percent of 13- to 24-year-olds in the US — wants to help. The photo- and video-sharing site is introducing a new feature called “Here For You” to support users who may be having mental-health issues.

Launched this week on Safer Internet Day and rolling out over the next few months, “Here For You” will bring up resources from vetted experts when users search for topics related to depression, bullying, stress and grief.

“Sometimes people come in and search for this kind of content, be it anxiety or depression,” Snap’s vice president of global policy, Jen Stout, told Fast Company. “Instead of being served up maybe nothing, or meme accounts, or something like that, we’re looking for a healthy alternative to provide young people with tools that would be readily available in the app.” 

Snap says the “Here For You” content will look just like other app postings, where users can click through to learn more. The company has long fact-checked public material to ensure accuracy, so what comes up will be trustworthy. Snap also says it plans to partner with other organizations to create new content for the feature.

“We feel a real responsibility to try to make a positive impact with some of our youngest, sometimes most vulnerable users on our platform,” Stout says. “We know this is the first step of a lot of work we want to do to provide the right resources to our users.”

According to research by the i-SAFE Foundation, 42 percent of teens and young people report being bullied online.

Other social media platforms have also taken steps to make their sites safer for users. Instagram introduced its “Restrict” mode last year that allows users to prevent harassing comments from appearing on their posts. Pinterest now filters and removes content related to self-harm. The company also introduced an initiative last year called “compassionate search,” which brings up breathing exercises and journaling prompts when users enter search terms related to suicide, pain and self-injury.

“Lots and lots of people are using it for that,” Pinterest cofounder and design chief Evan Sharp told Wired. “So how do we hold up our responsibility to do our best to help them?”

Facebook includes a “Bullying Prevention Hub” with information for teens, parents and educators.

Even with such features, parents play a critical role when it comes to kids and social-media safety. Experts recommend learning about the various platforms and the risks of each, as well as monitoring and limiting kids’ social-media use. 

Teens and adults might also consider limiting their social-media engagement for the sake of their happiness. One study suggests that topping out social-media use at about 30 minutes a day can lead to “significant improvements in well-being.”

About the Writer:
Sandy Cohen is a Los Angeles-based writer, nature lover and fitness enthusiast. She spent more than a dozen years covering Hollywood for The Associated Press before shifting her focus to health and wellness, both in writing and in life.

Outlier Disclaimer

This site is for educational purposes and not a substitute for professional medical care by a doctor or otherwise qualified medical professional. The information provided by Outlier Magazine is on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services.

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