BY: Emily Gutierrez
DATE: 14 June 2017
The month of May was Mental Health Awareness Month, in which an outpouring of activism, support, and acceptance for the mental health community was shared. During this month, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) celebrated their successful collaboration with Facebook’s Crisis Support Messenger program. This program allowed Facebook users to message the NEDA Helpline directly from its Facebook page, giving people another method of getting help for themselves or a loved one regarding eating-related issues. Facebook also collaborated with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, The Trevor Project, and Crisis Text Line to provide their Crisis Support Messenger program through these organizations’ Facebook pages.
Since the start of the collaboration in February, the NEDA Helpline has been able to assist over 1,500 people through Facebook Messenger. Users have used the service for a variety of reasons, ranging from treatment information and options to simply support for disordered eating behaviors. The people seeking out this service have also ranged in their history with eating-related problems, with many of them having never before reached out to NEDA or discussed their thoughts, feelings, and concerns openly with anyone.
Social media has at times been rebuked for having a negative effect on mental health; however, Facebook’s program has taken a great leap towards shedding positive light on the value of social media in promoting mental health awareness, and now, more specifically, awareness for eating disorders. Social media is used to spread news about, and support for, so many aspects of our society, so it also can be used to help reduce the stigma of eating disorders and other mental illnesses.