Snapchat has announced the early rollout of its Here For You feature in an attempt to slap an emergency Band-Aid on our collective coronavirus anguish.
To mark Safer Internet Day earlier this year, Snapchat had revealed the upcoming feature intended to direct users to mental health resources when needed.
“Here For You, which will roll out in the coming months, will show safety resources from local experts when Snapchatters search for certain topics, including those related to anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying,” the company wrote in a February blog post.
The world already wasn’t in the best state a month ago, but things have since taken a dramatic turn south — and everyone’s mental health has been impacted as a result. The possibility that our communal coronavirus nightmare could drag on for another 18 months won’t have helped, either.
Therefore, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Snapchat announced on Thursday that it has pushed out Here For You earlier than its originally intended April launch date.
Here For You has also been expanded to surface mental health resources when users search Snapchat for terms such as “coronavirus” and “COVID-19.” Currently the only Here For You result for these search terms is the generic Here For You Snapchat profile, but this will soon change.
“In addition, we are building out a customized search section of Here For You related to coronavirus that will provide Snapchatters from the Ad Council, World Health Organization, the CDC, Crisis Text Line, NHS and other partners who are creating content on anxiety specifically related to coronavirus,” a Snap spokesperson said in an email to Mashable. “We expect this section to start rolling out to Snapchatters next week.”
Considering the amount of misinformation and fear circulating due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, any efforts to set the record straight or help people manage their anxiety are welcome.
However, despite the addition of “coronavirus” to Here For You’s key search terms, there remains a significant gap in the feature. According to Mashable’s testing, Here for You does not appear when searching Snapchat for terms related to eating disorders, including “anorexia,” “bulimia,” “thinspiration,” “thinspo,” and “pro ana.”
This is a notable oversight, particularly considering the criticism Snapchat has previously received concerning its relationship to body image. In December 2019, researchers found adolescents who use image-heavy social media platforms such as Snapchat are more prone to disordered eating than children on other platforms.
“Social media seems to encourage young people to focus strongly on their appearance and the way it is judged or perceived by others,” said Dr. Simon Wilksch, a Senior Research Fellow in Psychology at Australia’s Flinders University.
Still, it’s possible Here For You will add content addressing eating disorders at a later date, as the feature seems to have been rushed out the door. Mashable has reached out to Snap and will update if we hear back.
If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For international resources, this list is a good place to start.
If you feel like you’d like to talk to someone about your eating behavior, call the National Eating Disorder Association’s helpline at 800-931-2237. You can also text “NEDA” to 741-741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at the or visit the for more information.
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