Facebook announces better online monitoring for signs of depression

SAN FRANCISCO, CA  — Earlier this month, Facebook announced they will be hiring 3,000 people for its community operations team to monitor live-streamed videos, in the wake of numerous cases of murder and suicide broadcast on the site.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post that his company will build a safe community ,by developing tools to make videos easier to report so they can take the right action sooner — whether through responding quickly if someone needs help, or by taking the post down.

Sheila Rivera — a counselor at the Filipino Mental Health Initiative in San Francisco — says the hiring of these content reviewers is a step in the right direction. However, she wonders what kind of training they will have.

“Highlighting these posts are only going to go so far, but we also need to make sure that the people are getting help and the agencies are there to provide language specific, culturally specific, and also regionally specific services to them,” she says.

Rivera says that while monitoring live streams may help — the problem begins before users even sign online.

“The amazing thing would be if we could find those posts and find those people who have been posting a pattern of different things, and stop it before it gets to a point where it’s going to be suicide… where they feel that suicide is the only choice, the only option.”

She also hopes that these people who may be viewing these acts of violence or self harm can have access to help as well.

“Because to be exposed to all those videos, all those posts that are really traumatizing, can be really hard on the people who are doing it on a daily basis.”

When dealing with our own friends and family members posting things online, Rivera says there are three things to look out for when checking to see if a person may be suicidal.

Does this person have a plan — have the means — and what is their intent?

“A plan means that a lot of the time when people are thinking about suicide, they tend to focus on a certain plan. Something that they feel like this is the way they want to go. It means is if they access to it right away, like if they have pills, do they have access to those pills? Intent means they are very serious… like how close are they feeling? Do they really intend to do it?”

Because of the stigma of mental health in our community — it is also important to be careful in how we engage someone who may be depressed.

“One of things we want to avoid is blaming. We want to avoid making them feel ashamed for those thoughts, because what it does it shuts them down,” she says.

The Filipino Mental Health Initiative has started the #usaptayo campaign, to help fight against the stigma of mental health within the Filipino community through dialogue.

The campaign encourages kababayans to share their struggles in order to make these conversations easier to talk about, so it will lead to more answers and a more connected community.


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