Instagram & the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Support Mental Health During COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic had forced people around the world to adjust to new routines, cope with loneliness, job loss, grief, and more.

Instagram is partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to distribute expert guidance and recommendations to help protect mental health during social distancing and make sure people have ways to feel connected.

Tune in to an Instagram Live series from Netflix called “Wanna Talk About It?” To hear stars and experts discuss how they are coping during this time and ways to handle anxiety, stress, and feelings of isolation.

Carolyn Merrell, Global Head of Policy Programs, of Instagram and Ken Duckworth, MD, Chief Medical Officer, of NAMI, speak to us about a few questions you might have about the program.

Here’s what they had to say:

Why has Instagram formed this partnership at this time?

Merrell: Instagram was partnered with NAMI for the past couple years but we wanted to make sure that we were getting resources to young people right now specifically around COVID-19.

How will this program help those struggling with anxiety or isolation?

Merrell: So we see a lot more people coming to Instagram right now, they’re looking for connection and they’re looking for support. So we are partnering with NAMI to help give them credible, reliable information. We’re supporting conversations between NAMI experts and community leaders on Instagram Live and we’re making donations to organizations that are on the front lines right now who are handling the crisis lines people are looking to for support.

What are other ways Facebook and Instagram are supporting mental health?

Merrell: Instagram is making sure that we’re giving people credible information. We’re partnering with people like NAMI, with partners like The W.H.O, The S.B.A, just making sure you have information. We’re also looking at different ways of how we can bring people together. We launched a “Stay Home” sticker that’s been used over 100,000,000 times. It’s really encouraging people to stay home, to find solidarity in that, to see we’re not alone, and to just really make sure that they’re spending time well while on Instagram. 

What are NAMI’s recommendations for supporting mental health through this pandemic and using social media in a positive way?

Duckworth: Everybody is their own individual story and I encourage people to rely upon the things that have worked for them. With that said, if you’re a young person, the NAMI communicative feed through Instagram is a way to get support for your mental health and get accurate information. You might also run across the occasional movie star, who’s going to talk about their experience with managing anxiety and isolation. These are universal experiences but certain people have a lot of pull. Or tens of million twitter followers, for example. I think the idea that it’s a normative conversation. Noah Centineo is contending with us, you might too. How is he managing his anxiety? Well, he’s a big “deep breather” and it turns out that there’s evidence that suggests deep breathing reduces your heart rate and blood pressure, and it is an anti-anxiety intervention, with no side affects.

What topics will be shared via Instagram Live between Instagram creators and NAMI experts?

Duckworth: We’re going to be working the full monty of resources from tips on how to sleep, tips on how to modulate your use of social media where I do think there is a dose affect there. You will also find people who are living with things you are living with. Some people have trauma history, who find isolation to be particularly difficult. You may find people that are like you through this vehicle. 

Where can we go for more information?

Merrell: For more information you can go to NAMI’s Instagram, that’s @namicommunicate. You can also go to Netflix’s Instagram or we’ll be hosting a series of conversations around mental health with different organizations around the next six weeks.