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Facebook Outlines Coming Mental Health Support Tools

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There’s no other way to put it – 2020 has been tough, and we still have three and bit months to go, which, ideally, will deliver some form of good news and/or relief. But nobody knows what’s coming, more so than ever, and that uncertainty has had significant impacts on the mental health of many people, as they work through the various concerns and try to manage the outcomes as best they can.

Really, we all need to give each other a break, and seek to reach out to friends where we can. The lack of in-person interaction takes its toll, in many ways, and while tensions and frustrations are running high, it’s worth trying to maintain a level of compassion, in all situations. Because it’s tough. People are facing major, ongoing challenges and battles, many of which you can’t possibly know about.

Recognizing this, Facebook, as part of World Suicide Prevention Day, has today announced a range of new mental health support tools that it’s looking to roll out in the coming months.

As per Facebook:

“Since the pandemic began, we have taken a number of additional steps to keep people safe, including providing people with tips we developed with global experts, localized resources and easy access to over 100 local crisis helplines through our COVID-19 Information Center. Experts have made clear that making these tips and resources easier to find is key to those seeking help.”

Expanding on this, Facebook will soon also be adding:

New rules around the sharing of self-harm related content

Facebook already has a range of rules in place in regards to self-harm related content, with Instagram expanding its ban on images of self-harm late last year. Now, Facebook’s also looking to implement restrictions on content that may relate to self-harm, but doesn’t violate the current regulations – “such as depressing quotes or memes”.

“We’ll share our approach to address this content soon. These issues are complex and nuanced, but we are committed to doing all we can to address potentially harmful content without stigmatizing mental health.”

This is a difficult area – for some people, it could be that posting memes actually helps them deal with such challenges. But Facebook’s working with various mental health organizations to improve its approach on this front, which will see it extended its parameters around self-harm content in the next few months.

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Crisis support via chat

Facebook’s also looking to provide a new, real-time assistance option via Messenger chat.

“Getting people help in real time is especially important when they are in distress. In the coming months, we’ll make it easier for people to talk in real time with trained crisis and mental health support volunteers over Messenger.”

This could be a critical initiative, with the non-invasive, and less confronting nature of a Messenger chat likely to be appealing to many people in need.

Combine this with the fact that some 1.3 billion people currently use Messenger, and that Messenger will also soon be integrated with Instagram Direct chats and WhatsApp, and it could facilitate connection with many at-risk individuals. 

Expanded resources to help young people

Facebook’s also expanding its online resources for educators to help them provide assistance for students in distress. 

“[We’re] adding Orygen’s #chatsafe guidelines on how to help young people talk safely online about suicide to Facebook’s Safety Center. These will be available first in English, and seven more languages next month.”

Facebook has continued to expand its digital literacy resources, which is crucially important given more students are now having to spend increasing amounts of time online.

This is another key element for educators to watch for, and these new resources could be critical in connecting students with better support structures.

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Instagram Wellness Guides

Facebook’s also looking to expand on its wellness guides on Instagram to cover more aspects of suicide prevention and mental health:

“We’re launching localized guides that address ways to prevent suicide and support those who might be struggling. For example, in the US, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention created a guide to help people understand the warning signs of suicide. In India, the Suicide Prevention India Foundation’s guide focuses on how to foster social connectedness; in Hong Kong, Samaritans HK’s guide shares ways to check in on your friends; and in Nigeria, Mentally Aware Nigeria’s guide focuses on having safe conversations about suicide.”

Evolving industry guidelines

Finally, Facebook’s also working with suicide prevention experts to continue to revise and improve its approach to suicide and self-harm content.

“We welcome the guidelines Samaritans launched today, which are designed to help the tech industry address these issues as sensitively and effectively as possible.”

Keeping constantly updated with the latest info is key amid the ongoing pandemic, and its impacts.

This is a key area of concern – in the US, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall, claiming the lives of more than 48,000 people every year. But more critically, in the case of Facebook, according to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. 

Younger users generally over-index on social platforms, which is especially true on Instagram, and with the pressures of comparison against people’s highlight reel updates online, coupled with the added impacts of COVID-19, this is something that needs more focus, and anything that can be done to assist is a positive.

As such, Facebook should be praised for seeking new ways to help those at risk.   

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All Sober’s explosive Facebook growth

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All Sober

Image courtesy All Sober

Opinions expressed by Digital Journal contributors are their own.

When we look at the data on emerging brands building a community through social media, the numbers show just how difficult it is to achieve growth and authentic engagement. In the past few years, most brands have found that social media marketing is an uphill climb. 

According to a study from DigitalMarketingCommunity.com, the median engagement rate on Facebook for all industries is just 0.06%. However, there are exceptions. When we came upon the new addiction recovery platform All Sober, a site that officially launched in May, we were impressed by its social marketing strategy. We saw a growing, and more importantly, engaged community that was rallying behind a new startup. That initial impression was cemented further when we calculated its engagement. It was hovering just under 10% for the week—166 times the median percentage. 

A deeper dive showed that this was not an anomaly, nor was it the result of bots or fake engagement. This was a true community buzzing around a common passion, which anyone familiar with the digital marketing space will tell you is becoming increasingly rare. Add to that the fact that All Sober’s platform and apps launched less than six months ago, and it became crystal clear that it had tapped into something very special to achieve this level of explosive growth.

Considering how difficult it can be for new brands to stand out on social media (especially Facebook), we wanted to answer an important question: What is All Sober doing that so many others are not? The answer is surprisingly simple. 

What sets All Sober apart is its uncanny ability to elevate human stories and interactions to truly celebrate a very specific audience. Attention is a critical commodity in digital strategy, and the way All Sober has earned this level of lean-in and community participation is by honoring the accomplishments of people in recovery and putting a human face to the achievement of sobriety. For as long as people impacted by addiction have sought out help, the greatest strength of the community has been a strong sense of shared experience. 

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All Sober taps into that spirit and honors the successes of everyone on the platform. Its Facebook page has become a place for people to celebrate their “soberversaries,” cheering them on and inspiring the community to understand recovery is possible.

All Sober’s success is apparent, especially when compared to other, more established names in the space.

For example, on Sept. 9, All Sober had a post go viral entirely on its own—no ad budget was placed behind the content, and it was driven exclusively by the community. Four days later, the post had garnered 718,000 reactions, 45,500 comments and 16.6 million impressions—organically. 

Naturally, this had an impact on the page’s overall engagement for the week. Despite having a fraction of the size of Psychology Today’s Facebook following (7.4 million likes), All Sober (31,000 likes) produced more than triple the engagement of this mental health juggernaut. And while one might think that this is an anomaly caused by a single viral post, All Sober’s outpacing of industry leaders such as Shatterproof (112,000 likes) and In The Rooms (154,000 likes) has been a constant since February 2022. 

The difference-maker is coming in the form of positive content marketing and strategic amplification. Here’s what that looks like in practice.

Whether it’s a month of sobriety or 25 years, there is a sense of hopeful celebration that makes these social platforms a place for participants to engage and chime in with their own victories, stories and tips. This inspirational platform has drawn in massive numbers of people who participate every day on the Facebook page, and it is the driving force behind All Sober’s peerless Facebook engagement rate. 

All Sober, like any new platform, amplifies content in the interest of gaining new, targeted, quality followers for the brand. But what makes its engagement numbers so remarkable is that none of the content itself is boosted. The organic participation makes All Sober a true innovator in the way recovery and sobriety is discussed online. 

“It’s fair to say that most brands, to one degree or another, rely on advertising to help their message stand out,” said John Oates, president of JPO Digital, which works with All Sober’s social media team to grow the brand. “But the normal KPIs with All Sober are starkly better than most other brands that we’ve seen, and I think that is a testament to the quality of the content we’re able to use and the story that the brand is telling.”

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“I feel like many brands neglect the value of true storytelling, of really drilling down on what value you can deliver to the people who are viewing your content. All Sober has leaned into that beautifully, and we’ve been able to build a fever-pitch following as a result.” 

All Sober’s success on Facebook has inspired the organization to replicate that success on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter, where it can continue to grow large followings with positive messages of shared hope and inspiration.

All Sober was born after its founders, Paul Gayter and Flora Nicholas, experienced the anguish of addiction firsthand. 

“Our loved one’s addiction led us to experience the problems that hundreds of millions of Americans faced daily throughout the addiction-recovery life cycle: searching all over the internet for help and information in times of crisis, for recovery group support, for treatment options, for sober communities and sober life information, and for resources to help them get jobs, among other things,” Nicholas shared.

“During our recovery journey, we recognized that there were major problems at every stage of the addiction and recovery life cycle—that existing solutions for people in need were fragmented, highly specialized, not available on the scale that the problem demands, or nonexistent.”

As a result, Nicholas and Gayter dedicated their lives to changing the narrative and improving the process for people seeking recovery and getting the help they need to navigate addiction. 

“The only way of alleviating the constant search for solutions was to bring together everything that people need and house it all in one platform. That inspired us to create All Sober,” Nicholas added. “And while we have many iterations left to implement, I’m proud to say that we built just that—a one-stop shop for addiction treatment , recovery and sober life.” 

All Sober is spearheading a movement intended to make sustaining and maintaining sobriety accessible to the people who are impacted by the global epidemic of addiction. Gayter, Nicholas and the leadership team understand better than most what people go through and the types of resources they need for sustained success. Those personal experiences are the inspiration behind building this community and platform around hope, sharing resources, and positive engagement. 

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All Sober’s unprecedented social media success is a testament to its ability to tap into the inspiring stories of people who proudly celebrate their sobriety, while offering a forum and a wealth of resources for the hundreds of millions of Americans touched by drug and alcohol addiction.

By ending the stigmas associated with drug and alcohol addiction and embracing the community that understands just how common this disease is, All Sober has found a way to achieve enviable engagement numbers via a welcoming and open forum offering hope to those who need it.

To learn more, visit All Sober or Facebook.com/AllSober.

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