Feb 11, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: Snapchat's new wellness push

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Snapchat is launching a new set of tools and custom content around mental health and wellness, sources tell Axios. One tool includes a search function that surfaces health and wellness resources on topics including depression, suicide and anxiety.

Why it matters: It's the first product launch around what will be a bigger health and wellness push from Snapchat that will be rolled out in the next few months.

Details: A search tool called "Here For You" will launch in beta Tuesday, along with new content features.

  • When a user types in words that could imply they need help with health and wellness issues, the tool will surface a special section within Snapchat's search results.
  • It includes proactive resources from mental health experts, as well as content from partners on topics such as from anxiety, mental health and suicide.
  • For example, if a user were to type the word "anxiety" into Snapchat's search function, the show title for its new series "Chill Pill" would surface, as well as episodes of some of its other popular shows that show anxiety-relieving videos.
  • It will also surface Snapchat original programming from Snapchat that talks about issues like suicide or depression in a constructive way.

The big picture: Many tech platforms are beginning to invest in health and wellness efforts to ensure the loyalty and wellbeing of their users.

  • Pinterest, for example, introduced emotional wellness activities like deep breathing exercises for users searching for resources around matters like anxiety or stress.
  • Instagram has focused heavy resources on combating bullying on its platform and has worked to expand its suicide content ban.

Between the lines: Snapchat's efforts, like Pinterest's, are more about providing resources than they are about fundamentally changing its product to reduce user stress.

  • The company has dodged some of the bigger criticisms around user wellbeing that some of its competitors have faced due to its investments in privacy and combating misinformation.
  • It's also billed itself as a platform that's meant for close friends to interact, which could make its platform more appropriate for tougher conversations around personal health.
  • Internal Snapchat research shows that feelings of stress, depression and anxiety are the top mental health issues users say they and their circle of friends face, according to a Snap spokesperson.

What's next: Tuesday's announcement, made on Safer Internet Day, will be followed up by a further rollout of health and wellness features in the next few months.

Go deeper: Tech companies target your sanity

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