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Meet Natalie Salvatierra of Solely Sunshine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalie Salvatierra.

Natalie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am 16 years old, and I am the founder of Solely Sunshine, an organization to help those coping with mental health conditions, and to educate the community on how they can support people with mental health conditions.

I recently learned that during the COVID-19 pandemic, people with mental health conditions are struggling significantly more due to increased stress. I wanted to help these people, which is why I created Solely Sunshine and the website www.solelysunshine.com. The website includes a place for anyone to write virtual letters of encouragement, learn about mental health conditions, read about people’s true stories, and find suggestions of ways to cope.

OCD is a condition very close to my heart. A few months ago, I posted on Instagram a request for people to send me a letter of encouragement for teens with OCD, which I would send to students at an OCD treatment center.

From a single Instagram post receiving only a couple of letters to a website receiving numerous letters, I hope to inspire thousands of people to help others through writing a simple letter on my website. Once a person writes a virtual letter, the letter is received by Solely Sunshine and transcribed onto paper and decorated. From there, the letters are sent off to mental health facilities around the world. My website also has a place for people to learn about mental health conditions, read true stories, and view suggestions of ways to cope with OCD/anxiety.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I think the biggest challenge I have faced so far is trying to encourage people to write a letter. Despite it being simple and easy to write a few sentences of encouragement, I find people often put it aside and say they will write a letter later. When people write a letter at solelysunshine.com, it means a lot to me because I know that they are kind people and thinking of others’ well-being.

Please tell us about Solely Sunshine.
Solely Sunshine’s mission is to spread sunshine to people with mental health conditions through encouraging letters written by YOU. I am very proud to have sent over 100 letters from strangers around the world to people with mental health conditions in need of encouragement. I think Solely Sunshine is different from most mental health organizations because anyone can easily write a letter and help someone. You don’t have to pay or leave your house to make a difference, which I think is very special.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t think I would change anything.

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