Mental Health Champions: Why & How Dr Anna Flores Locke Of Charlandra Counseling Services Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness

An Interview With Michelle Tennant Nicholson

Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Authority Magazine
7 min readDec 14, 2022


… The world needs you and is waiting for you to offer your uniqueness that will make a positive impact. We are surrounded by such despair and bringing another person joy and hope is invaluable, not only to them, but to you as well. For in giving, we truly receive and enrich our souls together!

As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Dr Anna Flores Locke.

Dr. Anna Flores Locke is a Latina international award-winning author, mental health counselor, professor, infertility warrior, and owner of Charlandra Counseling Services. Dr. Anna uses her more than 18 years of clinical experience and personal experience with infertility to provide the emotional and psychological support that others need as they cope with their family-building journeys. She is a twin mom, enjoys dancing, and going to the beach.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in the inner city of Chicago in a diverse neighborhood to Puerto Rican parents. We were a working class household, I went to Catholic schools up until high school, and then to an ivy league college and graduate program. I grew up to be humble, helpful, kind, and grateful. I learned the value of family, loyalty, and honesty. I also learned the importance of having community and being a contributing leader within it.

You are currently leading an initiative that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit more specifically about what you are trying to address?

Because infertility is considered an intimate issue in the bedroom, most of us suffering from it stay silent and isolated. I am leading an initiative to break this silence so those suffering from infertility can be supported in their families, workplaces, and communities. I lived behind the cloak of shame and guilt for too long that I am doing something to change that for others who are struggling to conceive. Infertility is a medical condition, triggering a psychological response just as severe as receiving a cancer diagnosis, yet those of us with it suffer in shame, guilt, and silence. By breaking the silence, individuals with infertility can openly discuss the pain they are experiencing within their support system, access medical and psychological treatment, and increase their ability to cope with it and achieve parenthood.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

I struggled to get pregnant for more than 3 years and as a consequence suffered from depression and anxiety that took a toll on me and my marriage. When I wrote my book, “Body Betrayal: Understanding and Living with Infertility”, I began to emotionally heal from this traumatic experience of having infertility, undergoing medical treatment to get pregnant, and having premature twins. From this lived experience, I personally felt the emotional and psychological toll that fighting to have a baby has on an individual. As a mental health counselor, I wanted to support others on their family building journey to cope with the stress of it and not loose themselves in the process. Most importantly, I wanted to help others maintain their stamina and mental health throughout the process so they don’t give up until they are pregnant and/or become a parent.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

Realizing that I no longer wanted my pain to consume my life and instead I wanted my pain to define my life’s purpose. I lived in shame and guilt for too long with infertility, that I wanted to do something about it. By healing and supporting others through their family building journey, I am healing myself and making meaning of my inability to get pregnant naturally. Championing the mental health of those with infertility, rids the stigma associated to it and gives them a community of support to get pregnant despite adversity. For me, I had no other choice then to be part of the community of infertility warriors and offer my psychological services to support others going through what I did.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

When I openly shared my story of infertility to others, the most interesting result was the amount of people who came to me to share a similar story. Some of us had known each other for years yet did not know that we struggled to get pregnant. Infertility is more common than we think, and when I tell my story, it opens doors for others to share as well. In sharing, we connect, and begin to heal. Connection validates our shared experiences, and makes us feel less isolated and inadequate.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Being accepted into the Hispanic Entrepreneurship and Training Program through the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce catapulted my identity as a small business owner. This program equipped me with the tools and knowledge to become a Minority, Women Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE), to double my staff, and to embody my role as a mental health leader and expert in infertility emotional wellness. Most importantly, this experience helped me believe in myself and what I have to offer to others fighting to have a baby.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

Even though 1 in 8 couples experience infertility, the stigma associated to it leads to isolation and shame. Some reasons for this could be the intimate and private nature of reproductive health, and that pregnancy and being a parent are overtly and intensely praised and reinforced in our society. Thus, to not be able to get pregnant is met with disappointment and shaming tactics that I call “reproductive microaggressions”. These are those comments such as, “are you shooting blanks?”, “just relax”, “it only takes five minutes”, that people make struggling to conceive feel inferior, ashamed, and inadequate. From these experiences, many people are silenced and feel that their infertility diagnosis is stigmatized. Further, many people struggling to get pregnant believe that they have to figure it out by themselves and just try harder; so they don’t seek support.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

Individuals can offer comfort and support when they know someone is having trouble conceiving. Something as simple as saying, “I am here for you, tell me how I can help” and offering a hug are powerful ways to support someone with infertility. As a society, we need to make space for reproductive challenges and not assume that everyone who wants to get pregnant, can easily do so. We also need to support women and men in the workplace as they struggle to conceive by offering flexible schedules for doctor’s appointments, a safe place to give injections (a part of fertility treatment), and a comforting ear for them to share their experiences; and time off for recovery (both physically and emotionally). One aspect of the journey that is often neglected and minimized, is the sense of loss and grief that many individuals face. Getting pregnant through medical means is not a quick and easy process — it can take many years and many failed attempts before a baby is born. These failures are all losses that need to be mourned along the way. Giving space for this bereavement is a way that the government can support those with infertility.

What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own well-being and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

  1. Every morning, I go the gym for a group fitness class to exercise, increase my endorphins, and socialize.
  2. I enjoy hot cups of tea.
  3. I take in the fresh air of nature and gaze at the sky to connect with the immensity of it and its beauty.
  4. In the summer, I walk on the beach.
  5. I speak with my own therapist and make time with my friends to laugh and share stories.

If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

The world needs you and is waiting for you to offer your uniqueness that will make a positive impact. We are surrounded by such despair and bringing another person joy and hope is invaluable, not only to them, but to you as well. For in giving, we truly receive and enrich our souls together!

How can our readers follow you online?


This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

About the Interviewer: Inspired by the father of PR, Edward Bernays (who was also Sigmund Freud’s nephew), Michelle Tennant Nicholson researches marketing, mental injury, and what it takes for optimal human development. An award-winning writer and publicist, she’s seen PR transition from typewriters to Twitter. Michelle co-founded



Michelle Tennant Nicholson
Authority Magazine

A “Givefluencer,” Chief Creative Officer of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., Creator of