We were so happy to have the creator of Solely Sunshine on Newsy Pooloozi to spread her bright message of support to those needing a little kindness to help get them through bleak times. Sixteen-year-old Natalie Salvatierra explained how it works.
“Anyone around the world can write a virtual letter of encouragement on my website www.solelysunshine.com,” Natalie said. “All the letters get transcribed and have a picture on them and I mail them to mental health facilities around the world.”
The California native told us she created her online initiative at the start of the pandemic as she became aware that more people were feeling stress and anxiety. On her website, she elaborated further.
“Overcoming anxiety is hard, but it can be a little easier with encouraging words,” Natalie writes on her website. “OCD is a condition very close to my heart. A few months ago, I posted on my Instagram about OCD and asked if people would be willing to send me a letter of encouragement that I would send to students at an OCD treatment center.”
Admittedly we didn’t go obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) on Newsy Pooloozi, but we felt it was important to talk about mental well being. The discussion, our 15th episode, was partly in honor of World Mental Health Day (Oct 10, 2020), but mostly because we feel it’s really important for kids to value mental well being and know that help is there if they need it.
“You’ve heard that expression – the blues?” I asked Leela during the podcast introduction to our discussion with Natalie.
“Yeah,” Leela said. “Sad, glum… like a cloud has come over your head and won’t go away.”
“Well, sometimes the blues or even anxiety and paranoia – ”
“Like about getting the coronavirus!” Leela interrupted.
“Yes. Or anything else you worry about so much you can’t think straight. Sometimes these yucky feelings can be so bad and stick around so long you’ve got to get some help with your mental health. And there’s no shame in that. You see a doctor for problems with your body, so – ”
“You’d do the same for problems with your mind,” Leela said.
For young children, I think that kind of discussion is a good place to start when it comes to mental health. For me, the most important thing is that children know it’s OK to need help and to know they can ask for help.
That’s why it was so great having Natalie on Newsy Pooloozi as a way to tip-toe into this topic.
Both Leela and I think what Natalie is doing is fab.
Leela has already submitted a little note on the Solely Sunshine website. I like that she is wondering who it might go to and how they might react. For me, getting Leela involved is not just an empathy building exercise, though that is important.
But the real impetus behind featuring a story about well being on Newsy Pooloozi is to plant a seed somewhere in children’s minds that mental health issues don’t have to be brushed aside – that mental health is as important as physical health. And if any problems arise, they can be discussed. Help is available.