Instagram is adding easier access to support for eating disorders

Instagram is announcing that it’s adding resources for people affected by eating disorders to its social platform. If users search for hashtags or content that’s potentially related to disordered eating, the company will guide that user to resources or help lines provided by the National Eating Disorders Association (or NEDA) in the US, as well as others in the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Instagram says that currently, it tries to blur out potentially triggering content in search results, and it does direct people to generalized crisis support, but it should now direct users to resources specifically designed around eating disorders. In its blog, Instagram also says that it plans to show the resources if someone is trying to share eating disorder-related content, or “if a friend is concerned about something they see posted and wants to offer support.”

This update is similar to what TikTok announced earlier today. However, unlike TikTok, it doesn’t appear as if Instagram pointed to eating disorder-specific resources before, though they were shown in the general list of help lines. Currently, searching for content related to eating disorders will bring you to that general help line list, which not only includes NEDA but the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Veterans Crisis Line, and Trevor Project as well.

However, Instagram’s screenshots imply that the support button will specifically point out the NEDA contacts to people, rather than just showing them the whole list of available help lines.

As part of its National Eating Disorders Awareness Week programing, the company also says it’s planning to work with community leaders to publish Reels that “encourage positive body image, push back against weight stigma and harmful stereotypes, and show that all bodies are worthy and deserve to be celebrated.” According to the post, this is the third time that Instagram has worked on content for NEDA week.

Instagram has had issues in the past trying to regulate eating disorder content, and the social network is often brought up in conversations about negative body image and perception, especially among young people. While the higher resource prioritization likely won’t do much to help with self-esteem issues after using the site, it should help people who are struggling and vulnerable get easier access to help from experts.