We were proud to contribute to the conversation during Mental Health Awareness week and support finance service company Legal & General with their ‘Not a Red Card’ campaign. In many sports, the red card is the flag for bad or inappropriate behaviour and they took that idea and used it to put the spotlight on the benefits of discussing mental health concerns, particularly in the workplace.
Although, what caught our eye this month was Instagram and its #HereForYou campaign. For context, in 2015, Instagram had 14 million active users in the UK; 64% are female and nearly 39% are aged 16-24. Women in this age group are also three times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than men, as reported in 2014. It’s commonly quoted that 1 in 4 people struggle with their mental health.
A simple one-minute video features active Instagram users and influencers talking openly about past struggles with mental health, eating disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts. Those advocates include Elyse Fox, founder of @SadGirlsClub which support girls of colour experiencing mental illness, and Luke Ambler, who started the viral hashtag #ItsOkayToTalk to encourage men to talk about suicidal thoughts and depression.
Instagram has further introduced a feature allowing users to anonymously flag content that might indicate the poster is having a difficult time. They will be presented with a message and links to helpful websites and encouraged to speak to someone if they’re struggling with mental health issues.
It’s worth noting the criticism that Instagram has faced around the growing number of reports on how heavy social media use has been linked to low self-esteem, particularly in teenage girls.
However, while Instagram may not be necessarily acknowledging culpability, it’s done the right thing by bringing relatable voices to the forefront and have avoided being patronising or preachy.
Instagram is likely remain the haven for braggy brunches, fitness inspo and feeling #blessed but a social media platform can be very powerful when used well. This action can only be a positive step in getting young people to talk openly about their mental health and, ultimately, realise they’re not alone.