- Pinterest has a new collection of activities and resources to help users cope with stress and anxiety, and to improve overall mental well-being, the platform announced this week. The tools appear when users search for terms like "work anxiety" or "stress quotes" in its app and website. Results then point users to interactive activities to help them improve their mood, including self-compassion exercises and a deep breathing tutorial.
- The image-pinning platform said it won't track the search history of these terms or the use of its new mental health resources for targeting advertising or product recommendations.
- The guided activities were developed with emotional health experts at Stanford's Lab for Mental Health Innovation, Vibrant Emotional Health and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. "The experience is not meant to replace professional care, but it may help someone if they need support," per Pinterest's announcement.
Pinterest's decision to not show ads or product recommendations to people who use its "compassionate search" is somewhat understandable, given the company's efforts to help any of its 265 million users who feel stressed. The platform mostly has a reputation for being a place where people collect inspirational images of things that make them happy, and has worked to avoid being labeled as a social media company. That distinction is key in the realm of mental health, with platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube being labeled as contributing factors for cyberbullying and depression.
Unlike mental health apps like Headspace that focus on guided meditation and maintaining one's emotional well-being, Pinterest's effort appears more dramatic in providing suicide-prevention resources. In its blog post, the company said it was inspired to add mental health resources because it had observed millions of searches related to emotional distress in the past year. Pinterest blacklisted phrases like "self harm," "cutting," "bulimia" and "thinspiration" several years ago, Wired reported. Instead of providing pins related to those topics, Pinterest will display information for resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Pinterest's "compassionate search" is the latest sign that social media and technology companies are seeking to address their negative effects on users' mental health. Apple last year introduced an app called Screen Time to give users weekly reports of the apps they use most often and to help them limit usage. Google this year expanded its Digital Wellbeing tools to more phones for screen time management. The search giant also recently began testing a new social networking app called Shoelace that aims to bring people together in the real world — not just digitally — based on their favorite activities and interests.