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Fighting COVID-19 blues: How Snapchat ensures users are mentally fit and strong

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Written by Sneha Saha
| Kolkata |

Updated: August 13, 2020 10:10:44 am





Snapchat brings features to help users deal with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues (Image: Snapchat)

Social media can have both good and bad impacts on us. But right now, when most of us are stuck at home due to the pandemic, social media is playing a big and important role in not just connecting us with friends and family but also keeping us mentally strong. Snapchat is one of the many such platforms that take the mental health of its users very seriously.

In a recent finding, Snapchat discovered that users find it comforting to open up to their closest friends and see them as an incredibly positive force in their lives. “We found that spending time with friends, whether in person or online, is one of the best defenses against feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression,” Jacob Andreou, VP Product at Snap told indianexpress.com.

As of April 2020, snaps sent between friends reached an all-time high, video call usage grew by 50 per cent, and elevated engagement in Snap Games, which are played with friends. “Many users also expressed the desire to understand these issues better in order to support friends who may be struggling,” Andreou added.

Andreou believes that one of the many ways to combat rising mental health issues is to create or maintain daily social interactions. “Snapchat is allowing people to do just that and helping close friends and family stay together emotionally, while they are separated physically,” Andreou said.

The newest measure taken by Snapchat in its mental health campaign is the partnership with Headspace. The US-based Snap launched Snap Minis at the Snap’s partner summit a couple of months ago. Minis allows developers to bring bite sized experiences into Snapchat. The first Minis launched a few weeks ago is in partnership with Headspace, a global leader in meditation and mindfulness.

Through the Headspace Mini, Snapchatters can access guided meditations and mindfulness practices, be able to do exercises with friends, or use new tools to send encouraging messages to positively boost friends in need, directly within the Snapchat app.

Last month, Snapchat announced the launch of the Here For You in India in partnership with the Mariwala Health Initiative and the Manas Foundation. “These two expert organisations worked closely with our team to create resources that cover topics such as: how to cope when you’re struggling with overwhelming emotions, how to spot signs of depression in loved ones and also a range of questions answered by clinical psychologists and mental health professionals,” Andreou said.

Each of the videos concludes with more information on the services the partner can offer, as well as ways to contact a trained counsellor directly for help. The resources are surfaced to Snapchatters in India when they search for terms such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, suicide, mental health and wellbeing.

“We built Snapchat differently – without likes, shares or comments – so people feel free to be themselves. Our platform is a way to communicate with close friends and with that in mind, our strategy hasn’t really changed when it comes to our approach to mental health,” Andreou said.

He also claimed that Snapchat continues to see strong business and user growth in India. “People have really embraced our product and it’s exciting to see that. We remain focused on creating culturally and locally relevant experiences for our community in India through product developments, creative tools, community engagement and partnerships,” Andreou said.

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