Facebook’s new ‘Emotional Health Centre’ addresses Covid blues

Right on cue for World Mental Health Day, Facebook has announced the launch of a new Emotional Support centre for users struggling with challenges imposed by COVID-19.

Understandably, physical health is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment.

Though we appear to have navigated the first initial peak of COVID-19, the immediate safety of ourselves and our fellow citizens remains the priority. However, as national health services begin to take a much-needed breather, mental health services are being sought out in increasing demand.

By and large, the Western world has adapted pretty well to the restrictions imposed by national lockdowns. Technology has become the substitute for our daily rigmaroles, helping us shop, study, workout, and most importantly maintain a semblance of a social life in a time where being together in close proximity isn’t the smartest idea.

That’s not to demean the impact of social distancing on people’s mental health. As the necessary restrictions stretched from weeks to months, clienteles for video counselling services and mental health helplines have steadily risen with them. Economic fallout and sudden job losses have contributed to higher levels of anxiety and depression globally, and those with pre-existing mental health conditions have had their coping mechanisms raptured by social constraints.

With World Mental Health Day landing this week, social media platforms are teaming up with medical experts to raise awareness and make resources more widely accessible for those yet to seek out professional help. On that front, Facebook’s Emotional Health platform could become the catalyst for a more centralised type of mental support instantly available on the biggest social media platforms.

Expanding on established partnerships with health authorities like NAMI, It’s OK to Talk, and Kids Help Phone, Facebook has created a hub of easy-to-digest information on the full A to Z of mental health issues, whilst also providing expert guidance and actionable steps for those struggling in lockdown.

Some of the key features of the Emotional Centre in its current capacity are:

‘The Digital Stress Management Guide,’ which is currently available on the World Health Organisation alert bot on WhatsApp.

WHO’s sticker pack which is designed to spread awareness and promote conservations about mental health in Facebook Messenger.

A ‘crisis text line’ for self-harm and suicide prevention within Messenger, complete with an emotional vulnerability guide developed by the JED Foundation and Korea Suicide Prevention Centre for all ages on Instagram.

‘Peace of Mind,’ an original video series of Facebook Watch focused on delving into the everyday struggles of those dealing with mental health issues.

Facebook has pledged to continue expanding the Emotional Centre as a key venture in the years ahead, as it secures further partnerships with mental health authorities and charities.

It also continues to delve into links between negative mental health and social media usage in young people, evaluating the potential pros and cons of specific mechanics and the impact they may have on their emotional wellbeing.

With the large scale disruption created by COVID-19, some suffering with mental health issues will wrongly believe that – in the grand scheme of things – their plight isn’t that important. However, platforms like the Emotional Centre may allow them to take first steps towards improving their quality of life without having to go through the process of booking consultations with professionals.

The stigma surrounding mental health will only continue to shrink as people become more educated on the subject, and utilising social media is a bonafide way to ensure that informative content and specialised support reaches as many people as possible.

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