Social media is often blamed for negatively impacting mental health. Add in pandemic stress, quarantine isolation, and worries about catching the coronavirus, and it can be overwhelming. But now Snapchat and Headspace are releasing an update to their Headspace Mini app to help users tackle the stresses of COVID, as well as their suicidal thoughts and other mental health challenges.
Origin of Headspace Mini & Snap Minis
Snapchat launched Snap Minis back in July. This new Snapchat feature allows developers to bring bite-sized utilities (“mini” apps) that users can access in Snapchat. But the company wanted to offer more than cute filters and fun tools.
“As the platform that connects people with their close friends, and that reaches 90% of 13-34-year-olds in the U.S., it was clear that Snapchat could play an important role in reaching our community where they are, with new resources and tools to support their emotional and physical wellbeing,” Jacob Andreou, VP of Product at Snap Inc. tells Parentology.
The company collaborated with Headspace, the leading app in mindfulness and mental training, to create Headspace Mini. This app provides guided meditations, animations, articles, and videos to help improve the health and mindfulness of users.
“Mental health has become one of the most widespread and important issues facing Gen Z and millennials — the two generations that are on Snapchat,” Andreou says. “Studies show that spending time with friends, whether in person or online, is one of the best defenses against feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression.”
When Headspace Mini launched, Snapchatters could access six different meditation sessions that are three to four minutes each. Or, they could use the Mini’s tools to send encouraging messages to friends in need.
Within the first month, more than 5 million Snapchatters engaged with the Headspace Mini, indicating that mental health tools and resources are much needed and welcomed by this young audience. Existing meditations on the Headspace Mini include, “Just Breathe,” “Get out of a funk,” “Kick the panic,” and “Me time.”
Now the companies are taking things one step further.
Combatting COVID Stress
Snapchat commissioned a survey of Snapchatters in the US to check on their mental wellness. According to a Snapchat rep, they found that:
- Snapchatters are feeling more stressed than last year and feeling stressed more frequently — with 73% saying they’ve felt stressed in the last week.
- COVID-19 is a leading cause of stress (85%), followed by finances (81%) and work/career pressures (80%).
- The election/politics are also a significant source of stress for Snapchatters — with 60% citing it as contributing to their stress levels.
- For Gen Z Snapchatters (ages 13-24), school is a leading source of stress (75% for 13-24 and 91% for 13-17), with a lack of socialization with their peers, and falling behind on their education due to COVID-19 disruptions cited as major concerns.
- Snapchatters report this stress as taking a toll on their emotional and physical well-being — with 60% reporting feeling anxious, 60% feeling exhausted, and 59% feeling overwhelmed. Close to 50% report feeling restlessness and 43% are experiencing increased headaches.
This data matches many of the findings from a recent ParentsTogether survey where the majority of kids (70%) reported feeling sad, overwhelmed and worried. Additionally, nearly half the parents (44%) are saying that their kids are struggling with mental wellness since the pandemic started.
To that end, Headspace Mini now offers two new meditations to deal with these feelings, that are available today.
- “Choose Kindness” – a mini meditation focused on practicing kindness which can change how we show up in the world and how we treat others. In the midst of chaos, confusion and conflict, this meditation is designed to shift our mindset and move to a place of compassion.
- “Take on the School Year” – a mini meditation focused on navigating uncertainty at school. Whether students are back in the classroom or still at home, there might be feelings of worry, anxiety or even disconnection from friends. This meditation is designed to help you connect with your breath and find a resting place to ease uncertainty.
Headspace Mini isn’t the only feature that Snapchat is using to promote mental wellness. In-app reporting also allows Snapchatters to help friends who they know are experiencing mental health crises. When a user alerts Snapchat they fear their friend may self-harm, Snapchat will send resources — access to the Crisis Text Line, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, or emergency services — directly to them.
Earlier this year, Snapchat announced “Here For You,” which provided users direct help from mental health experts. As these new features roll out in the coming weeks, a new Here For You Center will be featured in Snapchatters’ profiles so they have quick, easy access through a single hub.
Snapchat Headspace — Sources
Snapchat — Jacob Andreou, VP of Product at Snap Inc.