By Mariana Nunes Santos Gomes, Founder and CEO @ Rede Autoestima-se

In high school, Mariana faced anxiety and realized that colleagues faced serious issues such as self-harm and suicidal thoughts. She decided to join the Brazilian Youth Parliament to study and build proposals for laws in the fields of education and mental health, one of which was about the adoption of holistic practices and therapeutic methods in schools. With this experience, she looked to scale her impact by accomplishing her dream of democratizing access to psychological care and other therapeutic practices.

In 2020, she went on to create “Rede Autoestima-se” (Self-esteem Network). The project is based in her hometown, Conceição do Almeida, in the state of Bahia, but it operates online with participants from several states in Brazil. In its first year, the network has engaged more than 35 volunteers who allocate their time in activities like research, content production and distribution, conducting conversation circles and webinars, and psychological assistance and support. The project continues to improve service protocols through partnerships with psychologists, universities, and public psychosocial care centers. Today, the network mainly supports young people who need psychological help amid the effects of COVID-19. Mariana has since finished high school and has been dedicated to structuring the network until she passes college exams to pursue psychological studies.