In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, we sat down with Ari Simon, Head of Social Impact and Philanthropy at Pinterest, to discuss Pinterest’s support of mental wellness and emotional well-being. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about…
Emotional wellbeing at Pinterest: Kathy Gu on advancing our commitment with Purpose Partners
Meet Kathy Gu, Pinterest Purpose Partnerships Lead! Kathy is sharing her journey to Pinterest, more about her work in social impact and philanthropy, Pinterest’s commitment to emotional wellbeing and how Pinterest is recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month this May.
Introducing Kathy Gu
Hi everyone! I’m Kathy, and I joined the founding Pinterest Social Impact team in late 2021 after spending more than a decade working at the intersection of companies and how they can make an impact. I’m fortunate to have had diverse experiences in the social impact field, ranging from in-house corporate, consulting for corporate clients, working within a community foundation and managing corporate partnerships in nonprofit–and being an employee volunteer myself! This particular intersection of companies and impact is magical to me because I believe the unique resources and powers of business can be deployed in a way that creates value for all stakeholders.
My own experience as an immigrant taught me what it feels like to be othered on a visceral level. It also taught me how to be skilled at code switching and made me very aware of disparities in access and opportunities. That’s why I am focused on serving as a connector — to promote understanding as a way of contributing to a more just and equitable world.
Pinterest’s Social Impact Work & Purpose Partners
At Pinterest, I manage our philanthropic and impact related programs. It is anchored in emotional wellbeing, which we’ve defined as the ability to embrace and manage the full range of emotions, in all their complexity, to help create a life you love. We’ve focused our approach on advancing emotional wellbeing in our local communities through:
- Art & creative expression: Using art and creative expression to promote emotional wellbeing.
- Social connection: Enabling social connection through storytelling, peer-to-peer approaches or other means with the goal of supporting emotional wellbeing.
- Tech for scale & insights: Leveraging technology to reach scale and/or to produce insights.
- Ecosystem: Building an ecosystem supportive of emotional wellbeing through policy, research and community programs.
When identifying and working with partners, we start with an equity lens. We recognize disparities in attitudes and access to mental health support across different communities. Innovation is another value we apply to this work. Some of the most innovative approaches and solutions come from organizations rooted in the communities they serve. That’s why, in bringing equity and innovation together, we actively identify and invest in smaller, emerging stage organizations who are often BIPOC-led. Part of living our equity values is in how we work with our partners. We are intentional about lifting them up through the title of “Purpose Partners” and building meaningful, trust-based relationships. Our Purpose Partners are at the forefront, so their knowledge, content and expert voice can inform and add meaningful dimensions to Pinterest’s platform, policies and even employee experience.
We believe that Purpose Partnerships are not just a nice-to-have; we intentionally build and manage these partnerships to create shared value. Funding is of course critical to these organizations, but it’s important that we go beyond that. We lean into opportunities to strengthen our partners’ capacity and long-term impact, including leveraging Pinterest’s platform, employee engagement and raising the visibility of our partners through activations.
I’m most proud of the recent launch of Pinterest Impact Lab in partnership with Raise for Good. Pinterest Impact Lab is an important addition to our commitment to advancing emotional wellbeing, enabling increased capacity for organizations on the frontlines of building new and effective mental health solutions. Pinterest Impact Lab offers tactical resources like speaker events, workshops and 1:1 coaching while also building community to help our network of Purpose Partners scale their impact and ensure long-term success. The inaugural cohort includes nine emerging stage organizations who are taking innovative approaches to provide mental health access and support in our communities. In addition to programming, Pinterest Impact Lab will also offer community events for all Purpose Partners on topics like brand building and operations, which are critical for scaling their impact. I look forward to seeing how this incredible group of leaders and their organizations will grow.
Mental Health Awareness Month at Pinterest
This month, Pinterest is investing more than $5 million to Purpose Partners covering a range of themes relevant to mental health, from art and creative expression to social connection. In supporting youth, we’ve prioritized solutions that center young people, are peer or near peer-led, and connected to school environments. A few Purpose Partners we are supporting include:
- Peer Health Exchange: Engaging a near-peer model providing young people with in-school and online support, resources and education to support their emotional wellbeing and make healthy decisions
- Wellness Together School Mental Health: Innovating and further developing Mind Out Loud, a youth-led mental health program
- Instituto Cactus: Developing a Youth Mental Health Map to support and enhance public systems and services that affect youth mental health in Brazil
On our platform, we are marking Mental Health Awareness Month in a few different ways:
- Pinterest is launching a Creator Editorial Spotlight with Maybelline as its inaugural brand partner. The Maybelline campaign “Brave Together,” created to help combat mental health anxiety and depression in youth, is rooted in the Pinterest Predicts Trend, Now Processing. The campaign features Isabelle Dias, a 2023 Pinterest Creator Ambassador and member of our first-ever Creator Residency Program.
- On May 1 our PinTV takeover featured 10 hours of content dedicated to elevating the artistic and playful side of Creators. Topics included activities from expressive art to music therapy, to DIY videos and immersive tutorials such as candle making and Y2K nails.
- Pinterest is also rolling out a series of articles dedicated to improving overall wellness that kicked off the first week of May with mindful arts, wellness recipes, affirmations and music therapy. These self care tips are designed to help Pinners prioritize themselves and be kind to their minds.
Internally, we’ll be hosting guided meditations, healthy hours and panel discussions. To get involved and join us in recognizing Mental Health Awareness Month, head over to your Pinterest app to check out our on-platform activations.