Facebook depression alerts

Today’s young people spend a great deal of time on social media. It’s no surprise that signs of mental illnesses like depression can often appear first on these platforms. Facebook has decided to take action. Developers have introduced a new option for post reporting that will open a menu allowing the concerned user to either send a direct message to the poster, message other friends for support or access websites that suggest ways to help. Any posts that are reported will be reviewed by a third-party operator. There is also a way to send alerts to the original poster letting them know who is worried about them as well as links to videos about depression and local support groups.

Facebook suicide example

Facebooks response after a post is reported.

“Often, friends and family who are the observers in this situation don’t know what to do,” said Holly Hetherington, a Facebook content strategist that worked on this project. “They’re concerned, but they’re worried about saying the wrong thing or somehow making it worse. Socially, mental illness and thoughts about suicide are just not something we talk about.” Facebook is not the first social network to tackle mental health issues. Both Tumblr and Instagram monitor searches for triggering words such as “thigh gap” and “pro-ana” which are related to eating disorders. The networks will bring up an alert asking if the user is sure they wish to proceed – as well as links to mental health websites.

Tumblr eating disorder alert

Tumblr’s eating disorder advice.

The hashtags “thinspiration” and “thinspo” were banned entirely on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter in April 2012 but Instagram has since lifted this. Strangely, the hashtag “loseweight” remains prohibited.

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