Facebook has this week launched a new set of creative tools for Messenger which are designed to raise awareness of mental health concerns to mark World Mental Health Day.
Why Messenger specifically?
According to Facebook:
"Private messaging can make it easier to talk about emotional or serious subjects, according to a survey Facebook conducted in the UK, US and Australia. Respondents said they could communicate more clearly and be more open when messaging versus in person. In fact, 80% of people surveyed said they felt they could be completely honest when messaging."
The first addition is a new “Let’s Talk” Stories filter, which was developed with input from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The filter provides an easy way to show your support for mental health initiatives via your Facebook or Messenger Story, while also, according to Facebook, acting "as an invitation for friends who might be struggling to reach out for support through Messenger".
Facebook's also launched a new 'Let's Talk' sticker pack for use in your messages and Stories.
The stickers can also be used in your Facebook post comments - so while Messenger is the focus of these new options, they can be applied across both the main app and Messenger.
In addition to the options themselves, Facebook says that it will also donate $1 to a group of mental health organizations each time a 'Let's Talk' sticker is sent, up to the value of $1 million USD. That could help provide more impetus for users to send the stickers, and get the mental health conversation started - in some ways, it feels like Facebook should just send the donation anyway, as opposed to incentivizing engagement around the topic, but the idea is less about engagement metrics, and more about expanding the message
The new stickers come in addition to Instagram's recently launched 'Create Don't Hate' sticker, which, when tapped, provides an explanation as to how the sticker is being used to stand up to online bullying.
Each adds an element to Facebook's broader push on improving mental wellbeing, and providing a safe space for all users, while also better enabling people to show their support and availability to assist those in need.
It may not seem like a significant gesture, adding a sticker to your Facebook or Instagram posts, but as noted, it's more about getting the conversation started, and showing that you are open to providing assistance for your connections, whatever that might be.
That said, there is also a range of mental health resources for those seeking professional advice. You can access Facebook's Safety and Wellbeing Center here.