Pinterest launches new search tool to help users’ mental health

(NEW YORK) — Pinterest is giving users easier access to tools to help improve their mental health right from the search bar.

Pinterest users who search topics like “work anxiety” or “stress quotes” or anything else mental health-related will now see a prompt that directs them to interactive activities they can do on the app to try to improve their mood.

The activities include everything from self-compassion exercises to a deep breathing tutorial, according to Pinterest, which announced the change Monday in a blog post.

“This experience is one of the new things we’re trying in our ongoing efforts to make Pinterest an inspiring and welcoming place for everyone,” wrote Annie Ta, Pinterest’s pinner product manager. “Our goal is to meet people where they are and connect them with tools they can take with them offline and do in their real lives at any time.”

Pinterest stressed that users’ activities are “private and not connected to their account.”

“This means we won’t show recommendations or ads based on their use of these resources,” Ta wrote. “Pinterest also does not track who uses them. All activity is stored anonymously using a third-party service.”

Pinterest is known for providing inspiration on everything from cooking to party ideas and workouts through its simple search tool.

The platform said it was motivated to add mental health support for users because of the “millions of searches” related to emotional health on Pinterest in the last year.

The new mental health tools, which Pinterest calls “emotional well-being activities,” will be available to iOS and Android users in the U.S. in the “coming weeks,” according to Pinterest.

Pinterest partnered with a team of mental health experts from various organizations to design the activities.

“Infusing a little bit of compassion into online searches humanizes the experience,” said Dr. Neha Chaudhary, cofounder of Brainstorm, Stanford’s Lab for Mental Health Innovation, and part of the team working with Pinterest on this project. “It acknowledges that the person sitting there may have real fears, stresses, or worries — and that they’re not alone.”

“Not everyone who needs a little dose of help comes to see us doctors in clinic. Pinterest, meanwhile, has almost 300 million users. Why not go meet people where they are, and see if they need help?” added Chaudhary, also a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Pinterest also makes clear the new well-being activities are meant to provide extra help but not replace professional care.

If a Pinterest user searches for something self-harm related, for example, the site still directs them in just two taps to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Pinterest, which earlier this year made its search tool more inclusive, said its new tool for greater mental health support is just the beginning.

“We will continue to improve the experience, work with more health experts and make these resources available to even more people around the world,” Ta wrote.

If you’ve had thoughts of suicide or self-harm or know someone who is in crisis, or if you just need to talk to someone, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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