About the organisation
Facebook is a social media platform built to help people stay connected with friends and family and bring us closer together. Other Facebook products, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, are also used to stay connected, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them. There are now around three billion people using Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger each month.
Facebook has been in the UK for a decade and will have 4,000 full-time employees by the end of 2020. It is also the largest engineering hub outside the US.
What challenges were you trying to address?
The impact on mental health due to the pandemic is profound. With so many users on our platforms, we have a duty to connect them with useful resources that can help them navigate this difficult time. Also, we have a responsibility to promote the best of what people can do together by keeping people safe and preventing harm.
What goals or outcomes did you want to achieve?
Facebook is designed to bring people together. At a moment in which pressures on social interaction and the support offered by communities are so severe, we feel a strong obligation to help support individuals, communities and civil society groups to make the most of the kind of virtual and technological solutions that we specialise in.
What was your solution?
Facebook Watch Party on mental health
We work closely with the top 8,500 Facebook Group admins in the UK who collectively reach 34 million people, a digital front line in supporting the mental health and well-being of the nation. During the pandemic, we wanted to make sure that they felt supported and had the correct information on COVID-19 for their groups.
To help them get the right information, we set up a Facebook Watch Party, which is a way for people to watch live or recorded videos and interact with one another. The admins had access to one of the government’s top COVID-19 advisors, a panel and then a Q&A session. Due to feedback, we decided to dedicate our next Watch Party to discussing mental health.
We were joined by Head of Information at Mind, the Dean of the Royal College of Physicians and child mental health experts from the NHS. 82% of admins felt taking part had substantially increased their ability to support their members' mental health during the crisis.
Direct help to mental health charities
All of the key players in mental health use our services, including The Mix, Young Minds and Mind, so it’s important we help them to get the best out of platforms to reach those who need it most.
We provide direct support through ad credits to reach more people with their messages, one-to-one support with our team to make sure their messages are having an impact as well as support on how to get the most out of our donation tools.
Connecting people to crisis information
Demand for support services have also grown. In April, we announced $2 million of funding globally to support the crisis helplines featured on our Coronavirus Information Centre. Users also receive up-to-date information on the pandemic, such as government guidance, prevention tips and advice.
In May this year, Instagram UK launched a feature called ‘Guides’, which is a new way for people to discover curated, reliable recommendations from people they trust, admire and follow. With many people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve partnered exclusively with Heads Together (the mental health organisation from The Royal Foundation and supported by Kensington Palace), to first focus on mental health and wellbeing content.
The guides consist of a curated list of posts with a range of shareable tips and recommendations on topics such as communicating your feelings, managing grief and anxiety, and looking after your wellbeing.
Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Now more than ever, we have a role to play ensuring our platforms give people the support they need. When we can't be together in person, technology can bring us much closer together with our loved ones.— Steve Hatch, Vice President, Northern Europe, Facebook
How did you roll out your approach?
We wanted to focus on how we could have the most impact. For us, this meant making use of tools that are already available on our platform and working out how to use them to help as many people as possible.
Mental health is a complex topic and we aren’t experts in it, so it’s important to work closely with the experts on all our work in this area.
There are so many organisations seeking help right now. We focused on working with our existing partners, whose needs we know best and who we already have working relationships with, so we know how to achieve the best outcomes.
What have the results been?
Facebook has been able to use its services to share accurate and up to date information in a way that gets it to as many people as possible, including a range of specific resources focusing on mental health.
We have also been able to continue to assist a number of partners providing invaluable support to those who are at greatest risk of the negative mental health aspects of the COVID-19 crisis.
What advice would you give to other organisations, in the same or similar industry as yours?
It is really important to make sure that you are working with the right partners. Everyone is either looking for help or wanting to offer it, but to have impact, you need to be well aligned. You need to have the right things to offer to meet their needs, and you need to know them well enough to know what these needs are.