Mental Health Awareness Month: Announcing an Industry-Wide Campaign to Combat the Nationwide Fentanyl Epidemic

Over the past year and a half, Snap has been deeply focused on doing our part to help combat the broader national fentanyl crisis, which has continued to intensify during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 100,000 people died due to drug overdose in the 12-month period ending November 2021. And according to a recent study published in JAMA, 77% of adolescent overdose deaths in 2021 involved fentanyl. 

At Snap, we have taken a holistic approach to eradicating drug dealers from our platform, strengthening our support for law enforcement investigations, and educating Snapchatters about the dangers of counterfeit pills laced with fentanyl. Our work has involved working closely with parents, expert organizations, and law enforcement to continue to learn how we can keep strengthening these efforts.

To help inform our in-app education efforts, last year we commissioned research from Morning Consult to better understand young people’s awareness of fentanyl, and why they are increasingly turning to prescription pills. Our research not only found that young people were significantly unaware of the extraordinary dangers of fentanyl and how pervasive it is in counterfeit prescription pills, but it brought to light the strong correlation between the larger mental health crisis and the increased use of prescription drugs. Teenagers are suffering from high levels of stress and anxiety, and as a result are experimenting with non-medical, abuse of prescription drugs as a coping strategy. 

Through all of our ongoing work, it has become clear that a larger, industry-wide approach is needed to help educate both young people and parents about the dangers of fentanyl. 

Today we’re grateful to be collaborating with the Ad Council on an unprecedented public awareness campaign launching this summer to help Americans learn about the dangers of fentanyl. Snap, along with Meta and Google, will be funding this effort. With the help of additional media partners, we will also be donating media space and developing and distributing content designed to educate both young adults and parents on this growing fentanyl crisis. 

Additionally, we’re sharing updates on our continued work to crack down on drug-related activity by improving our underlying technology to better detect drug-related content, while continuing to increase public awareness through key partnerships and in-app educational resources. 

Since our last public update in January, we have put even stronger machine learning models in place for automatically detecting drug-related text, images, and emojis. As of March 2022, more than 90% of the dangerous drug-related content that we proactively detected using these tools has been removed within minutes.

We’re also expanding our educational resources for Snapchatters by: 

  • Welcoming new partners like SAFE Project founded by Admiral James and Mary Winnefeld – working to combat the nation's catastrophic addiction epidemic  – to Heads Up, our in-app portal that distributes expert resources to Snapchatters who search for a range of drug-related search terms and slang. Since the launch of Heads Up, over 2.5 million Snapchatters have been proactively served educational content from trusted expert organizations like Song for Charlie, Shatterproof, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and Truth Initiative.

  • Expanding our partnership with CADCA by collaborating with their National Advisory Youth Council to develop Heads Up resources specifically geared towards substance misuse, community engagement, and prevention advocacy.  

  • Teaming up with the Partnership to End Addiction – the nation’s leading organization dedicated to addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery – to develop a guide focused on educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of fentanyl, and provide tips for how to discuss the risks with their teens. This will be available in English and Spanish on the Partnership to End Addiction’s resource page and on Snap’s Safety Center. 

  • As part of our ongoing special Good Luck America series focused on the fentanyl crisis, in the coming weeks we will release our next episode featuring an interview with Dr. Rahul Gupta, the Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House, to help Snapchatters understand the drug-overdose epidemic and its impact on young Americans. 

In addition to these new tools and resources, we are also updating our in-app reporting flow to make it even easier for Snapchatters to report harmful content – that way, we can act even faster to protect our community. We’re doing this by reducing the number of steps it takes to submit a report, providing detailed definitions of each reporting category so it’s clear what our corresponding policies are, increasing the number of reporting categories so there’s more specificity around the type of abuse that’s taking place and closing the feedback loop by letting Snapchatters know what take we take on their reports.

In the upcoming months, we will also be rolling out our new parental tools, with the goal of giving parents more insight into who their teens are talking to on Snapchat, while still respecting the teen’s privacy. 

Additional Efforts to Support our Community’s Mental Health and Wellbeing 

With Mental Health Awareness Month underway, we are also announcing a slate of new partners and launching creative and educational tools to help Snapchatters look after their mental health and wellbeing, and to support their friends. We believe this is especially important given the strong correlation between mental health and young people self-medicating. These efforts include: 

  • Participating as a partner in the White House’s first-ever Mental Health Youth Action Forum alongside leading mental health non-profits in an effort to empower young people to drive action on mental health. 

  • Serving as a Founding Partner of Mental Health Action Day. In an effort to remind Snapchatters to take care of their own wellbeing, we will launch a new augmented reality (AR) Lens that encourages Snapchatters to take a wellness break and participate in a breathing exercise. 

  • In addition, we’re adding new partners to Here for You, our in-app mental health portal, including The Jed Foundation, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Movember, and the National Alliance for Eating Disorders.

As we roll out these additional resources, we continue to prioritize the mental health and wellbeing of our community every day. As an app built to help people communicate with their real-life friends – who we know are critical support systems for those experiencing mental health challenges – we will continue to develop innovative tools and resources to help Snapchatters to stay healthy and safe.