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On a Mission to Improve Mental Health Services in Texas

Katarina Garcia experienced the realities of postpartum depression as a new mother. Now, she wants to help others in the same circumstances.

To do this, she founded Remember Mom, a nonprofit on a mission to help new moms through the postpartum period. By offering in-person and virtual support groups, Remember Mom hopes to ensure new moms have adequate access to mental health care services. 

To make her dream a reality, the 2018 Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi graduate decided to enter the Victoria’s Secret PINK with Purpose Project. Applicants like Katarina sought $25,000 in funding based on one of the brand’s three core values: people, purpose, or planet. 

Her first entry didn’t make it to the finals and neither did her second. But the third time was the charm for Katarina. 

“This year, I applied under the pillar of purpose with a plan for advocating for maternal mental health access in minority women of South Texas. As a mother who struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety after the birth of my son, I know how important and needed services for mothers are. As a recipient of a $25,000 award, I’m excited to continue advocating for women through providing access to group therapy and empowerment in all areas of life.”

Perseverance, Confidence, and Staying Positive

Katarina says it would’ve been easy to have given up on her dream after the first rejection. Perseverance and faith in her mission compelled her to not to give up on creating Remember Mom.

“Although I feel very lucky to have been selected as an award recipient this year, I recognize that my perseverance is what granted me this amazing award. I applied for the VS PINK with Purpose Project when my son was one year old. As a mother with postpartum depression, I felt a real calling to help others with similar struggles.”

Struggling to meet a specific goal two years in a row can deter just about anyone from trying a third time to succeed in a nationwide contest. Katarina believes her positive mindset helped carry her through. 

“Most people might stray away from applying to contests with large pools of applicants because the odds seemed stacked against them. But I know that if you have a vision you truly believe in, others will too. It’s okay to be realistic, but always be positive along with it. Reality is what told me this journey would not be easy. But it’s my positivity that told me one day, I would have my chance.”

Katarina also firmly believes in the power of having faith in your own vision and abilities. If your mission is rooted in a true sense of purpose, believing in yourself can help propel your ideas into reality.  

“You have to believe in yourself. After not winning this contest the first time, I could have easily given up. But I stayed self-motivated and continued a second and third time. Had I failed a third time, I know I would have tried a fourth time. I just truly believed in my vision and knew I would eventually have my chance.”

Perspective and Skills Development Paved the Way

While it’s important to “dream big,” it’s also a good idea to keep in mind the value of incremental change. 

“Small steps can make big changes… I want to change maternal mental health, but that can’t be done in a day. Big goals are important to have and they should encourage us, not discourage us. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed and shut down because my goals seem too difficult, but then I remind myself that even one small step is a step closer to success.”

Katarina also says that the support, encouragement, and educational resources she found in the NSLS were crucial for helping her step out of her shell and embrace a new leadership role. 

“Before joining the NSLS, I was very timid and wary of leading in any capacity. In high school, I ran away from leadership opportunities because they seemed out of reach. But what I realized from joining the NSLS E-Board is that you can do anything if you’re willing to put in time to learn. I learned how to be a leader from my participation in NSLS SNT groups, community service, and fundraisers.”

Katarina’s Advice for Future Leaders

Practicing servant leadership can be challenging. Katarina recognizes that it’s important to bring some compassion and grace into any leadership position and then, extend that grace to others and yourself.

“As a professional, it can be hard to separate work from your personal life. As someone who suffers from depression, I know that I can’t leave my depression at the door when I head out to work. I think it’s important to remember that we’re all human at the end of the day. We all deserve grace and compassion, especially from ourselves.”

Katarina also suggests that it’s important to do some serious self-work and address your own needs and issues before you attempt to take on a major leadership position. Doing so helps you maintain your mental health and be a more effective leader.

“You’ll be a better leader if you address your own difficulties before you lead a team. Life is full of unexpected curve balls, and it’s important to reset and take time for ourselves before we pour ourselves into others. When difficult situations arise, I try to reframe my thinking into viewing the experience as a learning and growth opportunity.”

Katarina learned how incremental changes paired with perseverance and passion can create change in the lives of others. Learn how small acts of kindness can also make a difference in your own health and happiness.