Guide to Identify Emotional
Distress on Social Media Sites

Guide to Identify Emotional Distress on Social Media Sites


The Jed Foundation, Clinton Foundation, and Facebook announced a significant rollout for World Suicide Prevention Day recently: the “Help A Friend In Need” community guide is now available in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Spain, Hungary, and Ireland. The guide, originally released in January, helps Facebook users to recognize signs that a friend might be in emotional distress and in need of help, including recommendations for taking action and offering support. Updates to the United States guide also now include tips to identify emotional distress among Instagram users.



“Help A Friend In Need” converts evidence-based practices into conversational advice on talking to a friend who may be struggling and how to connect them with available resources and assistance. Nearly 90 percent of young adults in the United States use Facebook, creating an important interface to help them learn to recognize and act on behalf of friends and peers who may need help. The expansion to Instagram multiplies the number of online users who may notice troubling posts online and recognize when potentially life saving action should be taken. Readers can learn how to recognize signs of distress or suicidal thoughts within their friends’ postings and how to approach them or seek urgent help.

“Facebook is a valued partner of The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program in helping to create a more supportive online community on a national – and now global – scale for young adults,” said John MacPhee, Executive Director of The Jed Foundation. “We are pleased to work with partners like Facebook and Instagram who understand the importance of using their platform to raise awareness and educate their users about these urgent issues.”

“We want to help young adults reach their full potential, including access to good mental health care to help them through difficult issues and life transitions. By posting this guide of important information, Facebook and Instagram give us a very important communication gateway to reach millions of at risk kids and young adults, and help us place a priority on intervention among their community of peers, family, and friends,” explained Rain Henderson, CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

“We hear from experts like the Jed Foundation that being connected to other people is crucial to those who may be at risk of suicide as it provides them a critical place to turn for support in times of need,” said Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer at Facebook. “This partnership means more resources to help family and friends identify when someone is distressed and determine the appropriate course of action.”

The resource was first launched in January 2014 as part of a larger partnership, The Jed and Clinton Health Matters Campus Program, to support mental health, reduce substance abuse and prevent suicide among college and university students.

The English version of “Help A Friend In Need” is currently available at Facebook’s Family Safety Center and respective Facebook Safety pages in other countries, and will also be featured in Facebook ads geared toward college students. Facebook is also partnering with suicide prevention hotlines around the globe to launch the guide internationally.

The Jed Foundation ( is a leading nonprofit working to protect the emotional health of teenagers and college students. Our programs are inspiring a new national dialogue on mental health, encouraging millions of young people to speak up and take action, and changing the way academic institutions create healthier campus communities and prevent substance abuse and self-harm. These programs include: The Jed and Clinton Foundation Health Matter Campus Program, a groundbreaking self-assessment and feedback program that helps colleges create more comprehensive solutions to support their students; ULifeline, an online resource that helps students understand and address mental health conditions like depression and anxiety disorders; the Half of Us campaign, with MTV, which uses online and on-air programming to share stories and encourage help-seeking; the Love is Louder movement that helps individuals, communities and schools build resiliency, create connectedness and promote acceptance; Transition Year, an online resource for parents aimed at helping to ensure a smooth, healthy transition into college life; and a portfolio of resources that helps campuses promote emotional health and protect at-risk students. Learn more at

The Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change. Because of our work, 20,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; 28,000 farmers in Malawi have improved their incomes by more than 500 percent; 248 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced in cities worldwide; more than 5,000 people have been trained in marketable job skills in Colombia; 8.2 million people have access to lifesaving HIV/AIDS medications; $200 million in strategic investments have been made, impacting the health of 75 million people in the U.S.; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative have made nearly 2,900 Commitments to Action to improve more than 430 million lives around the world.