Research shows the earlier children are exposed to social media, the more susceptible they are to suffering from poor mental health. To combat cyberbullying and general online negativity, Snapchat announced a new feature on Tuesday, “Here For You.” The “Here For You” element of Snapchat will provide troubled users with help from mental health experts.
How It Works
According to parent company Snap Inc., “Here for You” is a suggested search tool that offers “proactive in-app support to Snapchatters who may be experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, or who may be curious to learn more about these issues and how they can help friends dealing with them.”
Snap Inc. also wrote that”Here For You” covers topics related to “anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying.”
So how exactly does it work? When a user searches certain words in the app, such as “bullying” or “thinspo” (a term known to promote anorexic behavior), “Here For You” suggests helpful resources and content created by experts. For example, searching up the term “anxiety” in the app triggers a digital pop-up promoting the app’s new series featuring anxiety-relieving videos, “Chill Pill.” The app also has other original series that discuss other mental health issues in a healthy, constructive way.
It’s unknown how often users search mental health-related terms on Snapchat. But The Verge reports 90% of the social media app’s users are compromised of 13- to 24-year-olds — adolescents and young adults who are often the most vulnerable to sensitive content.
Not the First
While it’s Snapchat’s first time incorporating a mental health feature into its app, other social media sites have been developing their own ways to promote mental wellness. Pinterest added emotional wellness activities, such as deep breathing exercises to help users cope with anxiety and stress. Instagram has also mobilized to fight cyberbullying with its “Restrict” feature, which hides specified users’ comments on posts from public view. The photo-oriented social media app has also fortified its ban on suicide-related content.
In an interview with Fast Company, Snap’s Vice President of Global Policy, Jen Stout, said, “We feel a real responsibility to try to make a positive impact with some of our youngest, sometimes most vulnerable users on our platform. We know this is the first step of a lot of work we want to do to provide the right resources to our users.”