Mexican Teen is Advancing Mental Health for Latinx Youth Through Social Innovation Programs
In 2019, Arujo launched a story time live series on TikTok, reading stories to kids for thirty minutes daily. The series was both born from the desire to create something that would positively impact young people and a remedy for those struggling with anxiety and depression after being indoors during the early shutdown days of the pandemic.
It took off, and at its peak, Arujo had 80,000 people joining his live stream every night. After successfully running the series, Arujo transitioned into more lifestyle and fashion content. However, he still focused on spreading positivity and mental health awareness.
One video that garnered attention was Arujo leaving Post It’s with positive affirmations in dorm rooms during finals week. Why? Just encouraging students around him.
But it didn’t stop there. In an interview with mitú, Arujo shared the impulse behind his projects and how he’s helping the world become a better and more diverse place in his new role.
Arujo joined TikTok’s Diversity Collective, helping diversify and improve the platform for all communities
In 2022, Arujo joined TikTok’s Diversity Collective. They were aiming towards optimizing the platform to adopt features that were friendly to diverse communities. Arujo and the team pioneered the feature allowing TikTok users to add their pronouns to their bio.
While the platform faced controversy around content accreditation after Black creators spoke out about content being stolen, repurposed and viralized by non-Black users without accrediting creators, the team listened. In an app that thrives on the music, creativity, and virality of a moment, intellectual property has become increasingly important.
Inaccurately crediting creators has ramifications on the career, growth, and opportunities TikTok users may have access to, particularly those from marginalized communities. Knowing this, Arujo and the Diversity Collective looked into developing the accrediting creator tool.
“It is something that’s independent to the creator and I don’t think there’s a way yet to say ‘this exact dance was by this exact person,’ but it gives more accessibility for crediting someone who may have inspired you,” he says.
As an Advisory Member of the Born This Way Foundation, he’s helping Latinx youth with their mental health
Arujo realized he wanted to continue to use his platform to help others. That’s how he found his way to the Born This Way Foundation, an organization he followed for years.
“[Lady Gaga] has been a very big inspiration in my life for a while,” he says. “I was following the Born This Way Foundation, seeing their work online, I was on their email list until one day I saw an email calling for advisory board member applications.”
Adding, “It felt like a calling since the foundation focuses on youth mental health…I applied when I was [studying abroad] in London and in January , I found out I was accepted to become an Advisory Board Member.”
Amongst many things, Arujo wants to use his role as Board Advisory Member to tackle mental health within the Latinx community. “There’s a very macho mentality that we’re told we should just “suck it up” and just deal with our issues and internalize it. I disagree with that; I think it’s important to vocalize how you feel, even just with someone you’re close with.”
Part of Arujo’s responsibilities for the Born This Way Foundation include writing four articles monthly for Channel Kindness around mental health, meeting with the foundation and fellow board advisors to plan initiatives with the larger foundation.
Arujo’s favorite moment so far as a Board Advisory Member was joining a panel with Cynthia Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s mom, moderated by CNBC. The group discussed destigmatizing mental health with students across the U.S. Additionally, they shared the Be There certification course.
Advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community
Within the focus on teen mental health, Arujo emphasized the importance of supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, highlighting the high suicide rates in the trans community and need for additional support services.
Some of the schools Arujo and the Born This Way Foundation’s team spoke to implemented the course, encouraging them to become certified.
While juggling his school work, social media presence and serving as a Board Advisory Member for the Born This Way Foundation, Arujo also makes time to connect with peers and network.
Recently spotted at the Olivia Rodrigo launch party for her latest single, “Vampire,” at VidCon connecting with fellow influencers and attending movie premieres, Arujo is apt at working as hard as he plays.
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