19/10/2016 7:19 AM AEDT | Updated 19/10/2016 3:50 PM AEDT

Instagram's New Feature Aims To Help People When They Most Need It

This is for anyone who's ever been worried about a friend online

This feature is a game changer for the relationship between mental health and social media.
Getty Images/iStockphoto
This feature is a game changer for the relationship between mental health and social media.

Picture posting site Instagram is offering a new feature aimed at supporting people going through a difficult time, by offering the user a series of emotional support options.

The feature allows users to flag posts that people think could lead to self harm and also offers support options -- such as calling a friend or a helpline -- to specific hashtag searches.

Mia Garlick, Director of Policy for Australia & New Zealand says Instagram's goal is to maintain a "safe and supportive place for self-expression."


"Today's announcement is the next step in enhancing the existing safety and support tools for our community," Garlick told The Huffington Post Australia.

"The updated self-injury tools provide critical resources for people in need, as well as resources for their concerned friends and family.

"We want everyone using the platform, to feel like they can express themselves and find communities of support and positivity. Instagram is dedicated to developing the platform to keep our community a safe and supportive place for everyone."

When a post is reported, Instagram sends out a message of support that says "someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we'd like to help," reports.

Instagram chief operating officer Marne Levine, told Seventeen magazine the company listened to mental health expert advice that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress.

"These tools are designed to let you know that you are surrounded by a community that cares about you, at a moment when you might most need that reminder," she said.


Instagram worked with experts in the field, real people who've struggled with mental health issues and groups such as the U.S. National Eating Disorders Association and U.S. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - to get the approach just right.

The picture sharing platform also recently announced the function of filtering their own comment sections in attempt to stop bullying and trolling.

Users can now block followers from using negative words or turn comments off all together.

The feature hasn't been rolled out in Australia yet but is said to be rolling out in stages and hitting our shores very soon.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.