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Snapchat introduces mental health tool

Posted at 6:43 PM, Feb 18, 2020

OLATHE, Kan. — One of the most popular social media apps is using its platform as a mental health resource.

Snapchat announced last week that it wants to be more than just a fun way for friends to talk to each other. In the coming months, it will roll out a new feature called 'Here For You.'

According to the company's website, the feature will provide resources to users who might be experiencing a mental or emotional crisis. The app will look for keywords the user searches that are related to anxiety, depression, stress and suicidal thoughts.

Morgan Ramsey, a senior at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, is a student ambassador for the Zero Reasons Why Teen Council. Ramsey and other students across the county work to prevent teen suicide and reduce the stigma around mental health.

"I think this is a really positive step in the right direction," Ramsey said.

Saint Thomas Aquinas counselor Laura Cline said she sees the potential for the app to be a good outlet for high school students.

"Sometimes, it's hard for them to talk about these things face to face with an adult or another student," Cline said. "I think kids today are much more comfortable being able to go behind the scenes and text about those topics."

Cline said many high school students face a tremendous amount of pressure, which can cause stress and anxiety, and social media can sometimes make situations harder.

"We only see the glamorous side of people's lives that they want us to see,” Cline said. “So we might look around and think everyone is living this great life. That can amplify what we feel are our failures or our deficits."

Ramsey said she appreciates the efforts other social media platforms have made to reduce the stigma around mental health and provide resources to users.

"I feel like everybody deserves to be seen, heard and loved," Ramsey said.

Ramsey and other students recently met with lawmakers in Topeka. The visit was meant to inspire legislation to introduce mental health education and suicide prevention earlier in schools.