Kenneth Cole & Pinterest Encourage Vulnerability for Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s been two years since Kenneth Cole launched the Mental Health Coalition, a large-scale commitment that will bring together nonprofits, businesses, brands, celebrities and influencers in a coordinated effort to destigmatize mental health conditions. And while the non-profit has grown exponentially, so has the crisis, said Cole.

“Everybody is living with mental health and the needs are overwhelming,” he told FN. “COVID-19 has exacerbated everything. And now we are in what I call a crisis of uncertainty. Our life is maybe right now. ‘Am I going back to work? Do I have to wear a mask? Is a booster really necessary?’ Everybody is trying to figure out how to navigate this.”

This month, the organization has launched a campaign called “Feel Your Feelings” — a call for people to identify and honor their wide range of emotions. The initiative is based on the Coalition’s program board member Dr. Marc Brackett’s Mood Meter, with the goal to help people put words to how they’re truly feeling, without filters, hesitancy, or shame.

By recognizing vulnerability and true expression, it can lead to healing and resources, experts said.

In addition, the Mental Health Coalition has teamed up with Pinterest in May for Mental Health Awareness month. According to Pinterest, users have been looking to the platform as a resource to relieve stress and anxiety as searches related to stress and improving mental health continue to grow. Pinterest found that searches for “struggling mentally quotes” increased 9x, for instance, and searches such “yoga for stress” increased by 74%.

On Wednesday in New York, Cole and Pinterest came to together for an immersive event called “Pinterest Havens: A Whole Mood with The Mental Health Coalition,” which explored color and mood to build emotional awareness and resilience. There, Cole sat in conversation with Silence the Shame founder, Shanti Das, to discuss the devastating stigma surrounding today’s most prevalent public health crisis.

Cole told the crowd on his mission: “I asked five psychiatrists for a definition of depression, I get five different answers. And the reality is, the tools don’t exist to enable people to express themselves. Society and our culture do not encourage it or enable it easily. So how do we level the playing field? Is there a way to do it? How do we give people the tools to talk about how they feel in a way that’s not stigmatizing and judgmental? So that was the task that we set forth upon. And how can I, not coming from that space, bring basic business principles of scale and leverage to these resources?”

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