Research from the London School of Economics (LSE) presented that 50% of Snapchat users are under 25 years old, and 23% have not yet graduated from high school. The largest Snapchat age demographic is 18- to 24-year-olds. This age group makes up 37% of Snapchat users.
With this demographic currently experiencing school, college, and university closures and restrictions on socialising due to COVID-19, it is paramount that their mental health, as well as their physical health, are protected.
Understanding that restrictions in the UK are tough for young people, Snapchat has partnered with Shout, the UK’s free text line for those suffering from mental health issues. Shout was launched in 2019 with financial backing from The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – William, Kate, Harry, and Meghan. The service is available 24/7, free of charge, with volunteers and clinically-trained supervisors providing emotional support to those in need.
The Snapchat and Shout partnership will work as an in-app integration. If a user sees a Snapchat post from a friend that is concerning, they can report it in the app. When a post is reported, the post creator will receive a chat prompt from Snapchat reading, “A friend is worried about you,” mental health crisis resources will be listed in the message. The message will also include a prompt to send a specific word to Shout from within the app to chat with a member of their team.
The feature will work similarly to sending a text message directly to Shout, but without leaving the Snapchat app. Being able to flag concern about a friend is also a helpful tool, as those in need do not always feel confident to reach out for help without a push from friends or family.
With surveys telling us that Brits are finding it more difficult to cope with the third lockdown in regards to their mental health, free resources like Shout are crucial for those who need support. Providing support integration into social media apps popularly used by young people allows social media to become a safer, helpful place for users.