This New Messenger Feature Helps Open Up Convos About Mental Health

I don't know about you, but some of the most candid conversations I've ever had have been over Messenger. From learning OMG-WTF family secrets, to being alerted to mental health emergencies, people seem to feel safe being honest in a written message in a way they don't during an in-person conversation. This is why, for World Mental Health Day, Facebook is releasing "Let's Talk" story filters and sticker packs for Facebook Stories and Messenger. The new features are designed to facilitate open and honest communication in a non-threatening way.

According to a survey conducted by Facebook, 80% of respondents said they felt they could be completely honest while messaging versus talking to someone IRL. With this in mind, Facebook consulted the World Health Organization to develop the filters and stickers to act as invitations for family and friends who might be struggling with mental health issues to reach out for help, Facebook Newsroom reported.

In addition, each time a Facebook user sends a "Let's Talk" sticker, Facebook will donate $1 to a group of mental health organizations, up to $1 million. "It’s our hope that these tools will make it easier for people to begin conversations that can lead to support," Antigone Davis, global head of safety for Facebook, said in the news release.

The WHO reported that suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 14-29. What's more, someone loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds. For World Mental Health Day the WHO is encouraging people to take "40 seconds of action" to show they care, which can make a difference to someone who is struggling.

"Everyone can take part in whichever way makes most sense. Your activity may be private, for example, initiating a conversation with someone you are worried about or sharing a message of hope with someone who is struggling; or it may be public, for example posting a video message for local or national authorities about action you would like them to take on this issue," the WHO noted on its "40 seconds of action" flyer.

An easy way to show you care, and that you're open to talking about mental health, is by sharing a "Let's Talk" selfie. To use the filters, open you camera in Facebook and select a filter from the bottom of the screen. Share your message on social media using the hashtag #40seconds and #WorldMentalHealthDay.

Obviously, social media is not going to resolve mental health issues. However, for people who feel isolated, seeing messages of hope and invitations to talk can provide a lifeline. A 2019 report, Youth Mental Health in America: Understanding Resource Availability and Preferences, from the Born This Way Foundation, found that 65% of young people feel comfortable talking about mental health online or via apps.

In addition, 36% said the most important thing when it comes to talking about mental help is feeling supported and accepted. Consider taking a few minutes today to show your support for World Mental Health Day. You just might help someone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. You can also reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, or to your local suicide crisis center.

Editor's Note: This article was updated from its original version on October 10, 2019 to clarify Messenger is its own platform.