Austin woman working to save lives through therapy, mental wellness

Diana Anzaldua has made history in Austin by working with the city to officially declare March, Women's Mental Health Month.

The Austin City Council gave the proclamation to Anzaldua, who is founder of Austin Trauma Therapy and the nonprofit Contigo Wellness, thanks to her advocacy and leadership on the issue. 

Anzaldua is now taking the movement nationwide, starting a petition for leaders at the federal level to officially declare March as National Women’s Mental Health Month. 

Anzaldua says it's her mission to help save lives through therapy and mental wellness. "We do a lot of educational awareness around mental health we connect people to BIPOC therapists on our website and we also help people pay for therapy," Anzaldua says about Contigo Wellness. 

The nonprofit started in 2019 with a mission of healing equity.

"I think it’s important to end cycles of intergenerational trauma and a lot of times, at least in my experience, I’ve noticed that patterns continue," Anzaldua says. 

She’s aware the pandemic has prompted a nationwide mental health crisis, but she says it’s what keeps her going.

"I feel like therapy or just healing in general has the ability to heal our world and where there are pain points," Anzaldua says as she scrolls through memories and pictures of her younger self. 

She stops at a picture of her and her young daughter. "This is me and that’s my daughter and we were baking cupcakes," Anzaldua says. "I got pregnant when I was really early, like I had my daughter when I was 14 so I've lived in a state of survival for a lot of my life." 

Anzaldua, who now has therapy clients of her own, says her own healing took time. 

"When I was in my early 20s I was like, ‘is this depression? like, what am I experiencing right now? I have a lot of anxiety’ and again, living in a state of survival it was a lot for me and so I knew that I needed to figure out what that was," Anzaldua remembers. 

She says a friend recommended seeing a therapist, something even she was a little unsure of at first. "I tried it and I was like, ‘this is weird to just talk about your day," Anzaldua laughs, remembering her first time in therapy. "So I tried it and I continued I stick with it and really started to see some benefits." 

It's been a long journey, but today her mission is clear. "I recognize the healing that I've had for myself and really hope for that for others, and honestly for me, my healing would not have been possible if not for therapy," Anzaldua says. 

From her small office in South Austin, she's hoping to start a movement and a conversation to normalize therapy, healing and mental health.

"I’m a believer and my mission in life is to help people access healing and find out what that is for them," Anzaldua says. 

Contigo Wellness is also partnering with Kendra Scott for a give back campaign to help them raise money for therapy clients. On Sunday night there's a virtual event with the Thinkery to highlight mental health resources.

And finally, if you’d like to sign the petition to declare March as National Women’s Mental Health Month, you can visit Contigo Wellness on Instagram or sign it here.

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