What Are Hashtags?
A hashtag is a word or phrase following the pound symbol “#” related to a particular subject. Hashtags are typically used on social media sites and apps, such as Twitter, TikTok and Instagram, but you can also find them on websites as a way to categorize similar content.
The use of hashtags can actually be traced back to the 1980s. Hashtags made their debut on automated customer service systems. After selecting a phone number, you would have to hit the pound symbol “#” to finalize your decision. In 1988, the hashtag hit the web on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to create titles of channels. In 2007, hashtags became a function on Twitter, and they started to be used on social media.
Today, on social media, trending hashtags change daily. Users can easily create a new hashtag about anything, both good and bad. For instance, if you search mental health-related hashtags, you may come across concerning content on depression, suicide, self-harm, and other mental health struggles. Instagram will block these hashtags and hide sensitive content, but users can go around the system and create hashtags with hidden meanings.
On Instagram, users also have the option to select "see post anyway," even if the content is censored. While this exposes the darker side of hashtags online, there are also mental health-related hashtags linked to social media accounts and resources that help people struggling with mental health.
Hashtags and Shape the Sky
Shape the Sky was founded as a result of downloading Instagram and scrolling through hashtags on posts. When founder, Ryan Klingensmith, saw a child’s Instagram post about a mental health concern, he noticed the hashtags used in the post. He started clicking them and found more concerning Instagram posts related to the hashtags. As he kept digging, he realized there are many hashtags related to mental health struggles and hidden meanings. Since then, Ryan has been dedicated to teaching parents, teachers, therapists, counselors, and other professionals about mental health culture online.
Once educated on this culture, adults can then start the conversation with youth about posting responsibly on social media. More importantly, adults need to educate youth on what to do if they see posts about depression, self-injury, suicide, or other mental health struggles. Youth need to understand what content is considered a red flag, who they can talk to about these topics, and how to get help and help others.
Shape the Sky Hashtag Guide
Over the years, mental health hashtags have evolved and are ever-changing, which is why it can be difficult to keep track of, especially if you aren’t on social media.
Instagram and other social media platforms can block hashtags, but users can quickly and easily create a new hashtag with the same meaning. The Shape the Sky hashtag guide is a great starting point to learn about various hashtags related to mental health struggles and hidden meanings.