The little-known Instagram settings that might just save a life.

Content warning: This post contains mentions of suicide and mental health that some readers may find triggering.

Previously ranked as one of the worst social media networks for mental health, navigating Instagram can come with both highs and lows.

It’s often described as ‘the highlight reel of people’s lives’, where we can filter the bejesus out of ourselves until we’re practically an entirely different human being with an irrationally great life.

With over 700 million users worldwide, there’s no doubt we’re addicted to sharing – and stalking – all the fun things on the image posting app, but what about the photos that don’t make us feel good?

Taking our mental health into account, Instagram have rolled out a number of tools to help reduce the negative impact the platform can have on our mentality.

Although these tools launched in late 2016, here’s a refresher on how to protect yourself and others while enjoying Instagram.

Suicide Prevention Tool

If someone you follow – whether they’re a friend, family member or a complete stranger – posts an image or caption that causes you to worry for their physical or emotional safety, there is something you can do.

Instagram’s suicide prevention tool enables users to report self-harming or concerning content, so the platform can connect them to real-world resources.


Once a person’s post has been reported as dangerous, they will receive a message from the app reading: “Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.”

Image: Supplied.

Following this is a prompt to contact a range of services - Instagram has partnerships with over 40 helpline organisations around the world.


To access this feature:

  • Click the three dots in the top right hand corner of the post (...)
  • Select 'Report', 'It's Innapropriate'
  • Select 'Self-Injury'

Comment Filter

Another way we can control the Instagram experience for ourselves, or even our children, is to adjust the comment filter settings.

By customising your comment filter, you can avoid seeing any negative or offensive comments, and even comments containing specific keywords like 'fat' or 'b*tch'.

To automatically hide negative comments that you don't want to appear on your posts, you can filter comments by default or custom keywords.

The default list of keywords contains the most common inappropriate and offensive words on Instagram, including profanities, and custom keywords can include any words, phrases, numbers or emoji.

To access this feature:

  • Go to your profile and tap on the three dots in the top right hand corner (...)
  • Select 'Comments'
  • Select either 'Automatic Filter' for the default setting OR
  • Select 'Manual Filter' for the keyword filters

For more information, visit Instagram's help page.

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If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, please contact one of the following: Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or Headspace on 1800 650 890. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.