I’ll be the first to say that my trust in Facebook is small. It’s not so little that I don’t use it, so that’s saying something. But the stories coming out over and over of how Facebook’s “move fast and break things” philosophy is hurting communities and individuals without any big course correction is very, very disconcerning. At the same time, I put on my therapist hat as well as my writing online about church and mental health doing more to help people, I worry when I see reports of Facebook deciding how to manipulate people’s emotions to get people to stay on longer and sell more advertising.
So you can guess my shock when I began to discover Facebook being proactive with mental health for individual users. Confused? Let me explain how I happened upon this.
Facebook Was Concerned About My Mental Health
I regularly go into Facebook groups that are geared towards pastors, youth pastors, and Christians who have something to say about mental health. The hope is that I can read through what people are asking about to get a feel for certain topics, answer any misconceptions about mental health, stigma, or or point them to my Church Mental Health Awareness Cards if they are wanting to start to address this at their church or community. Check out the cards here.
What this means is that I end up going and searching through specific topics on the groups, sorting by the latest posts. After a few weeks of looking, I get this message from Facebook:
Hmmm… that’s interesting.
Of course, I’m in the middle of looking for an article to write about, so I don’t click the “Get Support” button. But when I look at topics like Depression, Anxiety, Suicide Prevention, or Burnout, the topic comes up.
Facebook, did you just do a really good thing here?
What Facebook Provides With Support
Now that my curiousity is peaked, I had to investigate what is going on. Now, it’s time to click the button. I cant’ find any news about this online, so I have no idea who this is or is not impacting, so you may or may not have access to this information. But it linked me to the following screenshot:
The first is specifically what it implies. It opens a customized Facebook Messanger panel to contact a friend. It then autofills the text box for you, but you can delete it all or change parts of it. This is what they put into it:
Hi, I’m going through something difficult and was hoping to talk with you about it. If that’s OK with you, please message me back.
The second one is also as it seems, but more directive in what you can do to get help. This one, I’m super happy about Facebook doing. The screenshot is below and right now they have a direct link you can go to here.
Finally, the most intriguing of them all is suggestions with how they can work through stuff themselves. As counselors, we always love to focus on internal, autonomous skills if possible. Some are not in a stable place to do so or emotionally / cognitively capable at the time. So this is a little risky with doing so, but the results are also kind of basic too. Again, they still have a working direct link if you want to see it here. Also, the screenshots are below.
So, for those who are not professionally trained, what are your thoughts on Facebook providing this. Too little, too late, or glad that they are putting something up?