Mar 20 - 3min readSnapchat are Here For You: Launching A New FeatureBy Jennifer Green

Snapchat is rolling out a new feature called Here For You earlier than anticipated to help users who may be feeling stressed or anxious over the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has said.

The Here For You tool was first announced in February, and it is designed to surface “safety sources” from mental health experts when users search for topics like depression, bullying or anxiety. Of any social media platform, Snapchat have the youngest demographic of users where 90% of its users falling into the 13-24 age bracket who are vulnerable to bullying specifically.

Snapchat has now added a coronavirus-specific section to the tool “that will provide Snapchatters from the Ad Council, World Health Organisation (WHO), NHS and other partners who are creating content on anxiety specifically related the coronavirus outbreak.”

The original release date was set for April; however, Snapchat expects the feature to be available to users next week. The feature was informed by studies that show that connecting with loved ones and friends is the best defence in fighting against anxiety and loneliness. They have also found that Snapchatters are deeply interested in understanding these issues and how they can support their friends and loved ones during this difficult time.

While most of us are going through periods of self-isolation, when working from home in these conditions it may feel like you haven’t got the same support that you are used to. WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, Google and Teams are a few examples of apps that provide options for multi-person video calling to establish a strong support system. A few minutes a day talking to your colleagues face-to-face could really boost some people’s mental wellbeing. Keep talking!

The consensus coming from the authorities is to distance yourself as much as possible and stay away from groups of people. We cannot recommend enough leaving occasionally to take a walk outside or go for a run. Maintain your distance from others, but the benefits of fresh air are huge. It is worth noting that there are excellent mediation apps and guided breathing apps like Headspace or The Breathing App which are free to download. They have been proven to help reduce stress and introduce a greater sense of control. Mental health charity Mind advises people to keep your brain occupied and challenged – so why not download FutureLearn and OpenLearn? You can hone some new skills – and even take a course in disease outbreak prevention.

With schools closing this week, it may seem a little daunting to figure out how to keep your children entertained during working hours. Try downloading your local library’s app, it may lend a helping hand in these times. You can browse, borrow and listen to your local libraries eBookd and audiobooks through apps like My LibraryBorrowBox Library and OverDrive. Also, thinking about what you can do during your lunchbreak? Take an hour to settle on the sofa with a good old podcast by downloading Spotify or Luminary.

Whether it’s downloading apps that on offer or simply making an extra effort to video-call that colleague who is living alone, technology is going to be central to keeping the country ticking over while we’re in uncharted territory. It will be tech that brings us together in a time of coronavirus crisis.

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