instagram here for you
Photography via Vimeo/Instagram

Instagram’s New Campaign Encourages Users to Talk Openly About Mental Health

Whether we realize it or not, mental health issues affect many of those around us. In fact, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem in their lifetime. However, two-thirds of those living with a mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma that surrounds it.

It is for this reason that speaking openly about mental health is so important, whether it be IRL or via social media platforms. For those looking to do so through the latter, Instagram is making it a bit easier with its new #HereForYou campaign.

The campaign, which was launched in honour of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, encourages the use of the hashtags #HereForYou, #MentalHealthMatters, #RecoveryIsPossible and #EndTheStigma to create a safe community where people can keep the conversations going. Its aim is to raise awareness surrounding mental illness by celebrating those who talk openly about their struggles.

“Every day, people use Instagram to share their mental health journeys and connect with communities of support,” Instagram said in a release. “From dedicated accounts tackling real issues, to hashtags of support and kind comments, Instagram has become an important community of support. We are inspired by these voices.”

Users highlighted in the campaign include transgender teen Jazz Jennings, Sad Girls Club founder Elyse Fox and Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario, who announced the project alongside Instagram’s chief operating officer, Marne Levine, in an interview broadcast on Monday’s Good Morning America.

“I have a lot of friends…and fans who feel sometimes like Instagram is the place in which you have to make your life perfect,” said Bellisario, who has openly spoken about her eating disorders in the past, to GMA host Robin Roberts. “You have to show only the best version of your life. Only the happy moments. Only the highlights. And it leaves a huge part of your life that is hidden and in the dark.”

“Instagram is offering tools and a connection to speak to people, to speak to professionals, to review online literature,” she continued. “It encourages people who may be suffering to take an active step in their own recovery.”

The 31-year-old actress also took to her own Instagram account to thank the platform for “continually creating a safe space for people to have conversations about mental health.”

“IG is a visual platform BUT many have used this space for more than just posting images,” she wrote. “They have found communities and friends who support them, and places where they can speak openly and honestly about their lives…No one should suffer in silence. There is no shame in asking for help. Take this moment to let someone know we are #hereforyou.”

The #HereForYou campaign isn’t the only step Instagram has taken to aid in the fight against mental health issues, however. Over the past year, it has introduced other mental health-minded resources, including anonymous reporting tools and a feature to turn off comments on a post. And while there is still so much to be done in terms of fighting the stigma, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

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