There are many individuals and accounts making Instagram a better place, from body positive activists to meme generators to feminist Instagram accounts like Planned Parenthood and Feminist Fight Club. Despite this, scrolling through Instagram can damage your mental health. Between overly filtered images to the onslaught of posts dedicated to personal milestones, looking at Instagram can make you feel inadequate about your own body or life. Some people even delete Instagram because they know that the app gets them down. Instagram knows this, and the company recently launched an entire team dedicated to making Instagram a healthier place. Eva Chen, who heads up fashion partnerships at Instagram, casually mentioned that the company now has a “wellbeing team.”
“[The team’s] entire focus is focusing on the wellbeing of the community,” Chen said at an event at Cornell Tech (via Quartzy). “Making the community a safer place, a place where people feel good, is a huge priority for Instagram. I would say one of the top priorities.”
It’s unclear what the “wellbeing team” will do, but it’s a start and definitely needed. Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) surveyed 1,500 young people between the ages 14-24 in 2017 and found that Instagram is the worst app for mental health. A 2018 study out of Notre Dame found that Instagram negatively affected teenage girls’ body image, while millennial women reportedly compared their lives to the filtered lives of others on Instagram and found that their own social and professional lives “lacked meaning.”
Instagram does have some mental wellness safeguards in place, like blocking certain self-harm hashtag or providing a warning on others. Plus, the company once launched the #HereForYou campaign to let users know they are not alone if they struggle with mental health issues. Maybe with this new wellbeing team, we’ll see more of these protective, inclusive measures in place.