Strengthening the Change


Who we are

We’re a philanthropic institute promoting initiatives in the mental health space, and supporting organizations and initiatives that, through mental health, increase the quality of life and the rights of Brazilian citizens.

What we do

We work through grant-making and advocacy, focused on the prevention and promotion of mental health.


Our mission is to promote mental health, with a particular focus on women and adolescents. Through the knowledge and access to socioemotional tools, our aim is to empower them to deal with life’s difficulties; positively impact their journeys; significantly increase their wellbeing and quality of life; and help them become subjects of law and agents of change in society.


Instituto Cactus envisions a future where:

All Brazilians protect and sustain their mental health;

Communities work within and alongside with the public, third and private sectors, for the promotion of mental health;

Those who need help can access it, regardless of their background; and

The communication about mental health is empathetic and destigmatized.


Our Story

Instituto Cactus story begins in 2019, when our founder, Maria Fernanda Resende Quartiero, looked for ways to professionalize her family’s philanthropic efforts, by identifying social causes which needed a closer attention and care in Brazil.


In 2020, immersed in the study of philanthropy and social impact, Maria Fernanda found an answer to her questions in a cause still not very much discussed in the dynamics of modern society, mental health.


She realised that mental health was a common theme that overlapped with so many of the other social issues she was looking at. The strategy was, thus, outlined, and Maria Fernanda noticed that by equipping people with socioemotional capabilities, they would be better prepared to deal with life’s difficulties (including, among others, those related to education, violence, housing an diversity), positively impacting their journeys, and significantly increasing their wellbeing and quality of life.


Through this process Cactus Institute  was established, representing the change, the resistance and the adaptability of the Cactus and also of the human mind.


Our Values      


We work to eliminate the stigma around mental health, by giving proper care and attention to the area.


It’s through the combined efforts of the third, private and public sectors; and through a systemic approach that we will reach our common goals around mental health.


Everyone, regardless of their age, gender or social background, must have the right to access mental health care.


Through active listening, we seek to understand the specific backgrounds of each and everyone who interacts with us, improving our approach to mental health and our impact on our society.


We believe in the human mind's resilience, and in the power of civil society as an agent of change. 


Our Team


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Chief Executive Officer

“Become who you are”





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General Manager

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

(Viktor Frankl)

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Analista de Comunicação 

"A cura do presente também vem da cura do futuro que se imagina." 
(Geni Nuñez)


Our Institute helps to achieve the following Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs)


Our Advisory Board


Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker

Psychoanalyst, Professor in Psychoanalysis and Psychopathology at USP's Institute of Psychology

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Marina Feffer Oelsner 

Co-founder of Generation Pledge

Marcia C. Castro

Chair of the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard and Co-Director of the Brazilian Program of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies

Márcio Bernik

Psychiatrist and coordinator of the Anxiety Laboratory at USP Medical School


Natalia Cuminale

Journalist focused in healthcare and founder of the Futuro da Saúde

 “When the situation is good, enjoy it. When the situation is bad, change it. When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Viktor Frankl



Do you know of any initiatives in line with our mission? Would you like to help us in any way? We’d love to hear from you!

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