The impact policy changes have on behavioral healthcare

Presented by:

  • Alice Warren-Gregory, General Counsel at Within Health
  • Shilpa Vadodaria, Worldwide Lead, Digital Innovation at AWS
  • Sarah Butterfield Bromma, Health of Policy at Pinterest
  • Chevese Turner, Co-founder of The Body Freedom Project

Often, when we see social media companies in the news, it’s negative—we hear about the harmful effects social media has on body image and disordered eating, Facebook covering up their internal research about eating disorders, and TikTok suppressing content made by Black creators. But some companies like Pinterest, Amazon Web Services, and Within Health are making important policy changes that can positively impact users, creators, employees, and even social policy.

How Pinterest cultivates a safe and welcoming environment

Unlike some other social media sites, Pinterest makes deliberate decisions to make the platform a safe and welcoming space for everyone. There has never been a more critical time in the industry to focus on mental health—people spend a significant amount of time online, and companies should be mindful of how that time affects them.

User and creator mental and emotional well-being are top of mind, and wellness and inspiration play a huge role in policymaking.

Here are some of the things Pinterest does to promote inclusivity and care:

  • Actively remove harmful and triggering content.
  • Gather data and feedback from experts that it uses to build into its policies.
  • Share feedback with internal teams so they can design positive experiences for the user experience.
  • Ban weight loss-related words and imagery on all Pinterest ads.
  • Partner with Headspace, the meditation app, to give Pinterest creators access.
  • Prioritize employee well-being, especially being aware that many of them are responsible for removing harmful content on the site.

The policy prohibiting weight loss ads went into effect in July 2021. This came after researching and tracking online trends and determining how challenges related to body image and eating disorders increased during COVID, particularly in young people.1

Pinterest realized the dramatic effect weight loss ads and diet culture had on vulnerable communities and wanted to make meaningful changes for its users. So many people visit Pinterest for inspiration to live healthy lives, and it wanted to continue to inspire people to live a life they love without being body shamed or inundated with diet culture or weight stigma.

Before this policy change, Pinterest had long since had policies in place banning body shaming and dangerous weight loss products, so in many ways, banning weight loss ads felt like the natural next step for the company.

Since the policy launch, they’ve seen an outpour on social media of support and users thanking them for the change. One year after the policy took effect, they analyzed user behavior and found that global searches for weight loss decreased by 20% in that period. And this isn’t just a one-off decision—it is part of Pinterest’s overall effort to make its platform a safe, inspiring, and inclusive place.

Amazon Web Services’ commitment to anti-sizeism

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud platform that offers over 200 services for startups, businesses, and government agencies. It has a list of leadership principles that make up its cultural tenets. The first one is customer obsession, which guides every decision and policy they make in order to prioritize the customer’s happiness, health, and well-being.

This past year, AWS added a 16th leadership principle: "Success and scale bring broad responsibility,” which acknowledges the impact AWS has on the world and, with that impact, the responsibility it has. Every decision it makes affects people and communities far and wide, as well as future generations. So, in addition to customer obsession, this tenet emphasizes employee obsession and deep care for the world around us.

One thing that falls under the notion of responsibility is anti-sizeism, which is combatting discrimination based on a person’s size. AWS is committed to making an inclusive space for people of all body sizes, shapes, and weights, and that includes both employers and customers. 

Body positivity and body liberation

This starts with a global affinity group about body positivity and body liberation, which was founded by an employee who was in recovery from an eating disorder and had encountered diet-related conversations at lunchtime that were triggering to her. She created the affinity group as a knowledgeable, safe space where people could be protected from these types of harmful conversations.

Diet culture, weight stigma, and fatphobia

On the other hand, AWS also created what it called a brave space for those who want to learn more about diet culture, weight stigma, and fatphobia but want the freedom to make mistakes while learning. These people likely won’t be triggered by eating and body conversations and would like the opportunity to educate themselves in a nonjudgmental setting.

The focus is not on calling out but on calling in, which is a compassionate approach to correcting people’s problematic behavior that focuses on reflection and understanding. In this space, people can begin their internal work toward anti-sizeism and related movements like anti-racism.

How Within Health fosters more than just patient change

Within Health is a virtual eating disorder treatment program that offers inclusive and accessible care for people of all sizes, weights, ages, races, sexualities, genders, and more.

Although patient mental health and recovery are, of course, major priorities for Within, we also focus on employee mental health and well-being. We train mental health professionals in management positions on signs that their employees may be struggling and how they can apply that knowledge to their roles as managers.

Despite being a clinician or other professional, being someone’s manager is not the same as being someone’s personal therapist; there are professional boundaries to be mindful of. Plus, many employees may have trouble expressing or acknowledging their own issues since they’re supposed to be the caretakers of their clients.

But how can a clinician or therapist provide high-quality care if they aren’t taking care of themself first? That’s one of the many reasons we prioritize mental health and emotional well-being throughout our company, no matter the person’s role. And even if employees aren’t client-facing, they still receive education about the values, initiatives, and issues that are important to us, such as:

Company-wide, our goal is to cultivate an environment of compassion, care, and sensitivity, both on the patient-facing side and internally to employees and staff. And we don’t stop with those connected to Within.

We believe our job as a company is to have as much of a positive impact as we can on systemic issues, which is why advocacy and activism are two of our primary values. If we aren’t doing this type of social activism, we can’t help our patients to the best of our ability. And at the end of the day, we hope to cause enough change so that one day, we don’t have any patients left to treat. That would mean we’ve done our job.


  1. Eating disorders in teens skyrocketing during the pandemic. (2021). Harvard School of Public Health.