Latinas Rising would like to honor the following amazing  Latinx creating social change and de-stigmatizing mental illness in Latinx communities. Allilsa Fernandez personal story has resonated with so many locally, internationally, and on social media outlets.  Allilsa’s willingness to be  vulnerable about speaking on the issues of stigma associated with mental illness in our communities and academia is brace beyond measure. Allilsa is the epitome of a what a social change agent looks like and with intentionality helping marginalized communities to end the stigma.

Thank you, Allilsa for allowing Latinas Rising HTX  the opportunity to share your story!

Allilsa’s story: 

In 2011, after becoming severely ill and entering recovery, I asked a therapist “will I be able to return to school and finish my bachelors?” And she looked at me with pity and said “I think you should focus on therapy right now”. I insisted, “yes, but what about down the line?”. She continued to look at me with pity and this time she said “look….your condition just won’t allow it. You need to focus on getting SSI. You may never work again nor go to school and that is ok”. I felt so horrible!!!. I then was assigned another therapist and a psychiatrist and I asked them the same question, “would I ever be able to go back to school?”. They both told me no and the psychiatrist went as far as telling me “you are going to have to mourn this loss. Eventually you will have to let go of this idea, of this dream. It just isn’t for you given your condition”. I felt so little, so worthless, and I began to process the loss of my dream to go back to school. Therapy offices closed, some therapists moved, and for various reasons I switched therapists, psychiatrists and psychologist and every single time I asked the same question because there was this longing in my heart to go back to school. Each time I was told to forget about it and settle for less. Against all odds I entered school again. The first semester was my worst!. I had a break down and no therapy. When I asked my advisor for help she looked me in the eye and said “fill out this form”. I asked “what is this?”. She said “it’s a form to drop out of school. People like you, people with your condition, just can’t make it in a highly academic school like this one”. I was so offended but I believed her. I believed all the professionals and I felt like a total failure at that moment.

Crying I went to my professor and asked him to sign my paper so that I could drop out. That professor saved my life!!!. He chose to believe in me!. He said “get that paper out of my face!. You are going to go to a counselor on campus, you will get accommodations via the disability department and the deans of students. You are one of my best students!. I am telling you, you are not allowed to quit!!”. It took one person to change my life forever in a positive way. From there on I learned my rights on disability, I sought help and found an amazing therapist who I have almost 4 years with, I found how to study and work with my condition and today….wow!!!….today I accomplished this!. Today, I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, Magna Cum Laude, from Stony Brook University.

My hat represents the struggle with psychosis. The many times I was told I couldn’t because of it. The many times I heard voices during an important test, the many times I had a crisis but I had understanding professors who worked with me. It was not easy but it also was not impossible, as these professionals made it seem. The radio represents the voices I usually hear. I usually hear radio voices rather than one solid voice. I love sharks. Anyone who knows me knows I am obsessed with sharks and their conservation. I love them!.

Photo description: My graduation cap. The background has sharks in white and grey swimming in blue water. There are gold letters that read “I did it with psychosis”. There are two colorful boombox around it. In the bottom it reads “#endthestigma”.



Allilsa Fernandez


Pearls of Change Wellness, LLC

Latinas Rising is excited about highlighting the following rising therapist, Glenda Demas a Licensed Professional Counselor and native Houstonian with a graduate degree in counseling from Prairie View A & M University, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., American Counseling Association member, and current Board of Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness Greater Houston (NAMI).

In her own words,

“I have been working in the Helping Profession for a little over 12 years with experience in education and crisis intervention. I found my passion to be Counseling/Mental Health Awareness from working with children in the education setting, and through my experience with children in the foster care system. Pearls of Change Wellness, LLC was established to provide support and services to those that are experiencing mental health challenges.

I am a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional specializing in PTSD, ART Therapy, Conflict Resolution, Crisis Intervention, Behavioral Health, and Anger-Management. I specialize in treating severe mental illness and mental health disorders by helping individuals work to establish healthy routines and coping skills that can be applied daily.

My overall goal is to expand my current experience, through education and research to help individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds understand that mental illness is not a stigma, and your mental health is just as important as your physical health.”

More information:

Glenda Demas, MA, LPC
Pearls of Change Wellness, LLC
2717 Commercial Center Blvd E200
Katy TX 77494


Latinas Rising is privileged to highlight the following Rising and Fierce Latinx therapist, Ana Valenzuela, LPC, LCDC-Intern.

Ana was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, at the age of 15 migrated with her family to the United States. She currently holds a Master of Science degree in Mental Health Counseling from Walden University. Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor-Intern to practice professional counseling in the state of Texas. She has a Bachelor’s degree in both Psychology and Sociology from the University of Houston Clear Lake (UHCL).

Since graduating from UHCL in 2009, Ana has worked for the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, formerly known as MHMRA of Harris County and currently a Clinical Team Lead. In addition, Ana works at Clearhope Counseling and Wellness Center in Pasadena, Texas as a contract therapist.

In her own words:

As s a bilingual (English /Spanish) clinician I am privileged to have the opportunity to give back to my community, by being part of a growing multicultural community to break the barriers and taboos associated with mental illness. I am honored to be part of the solution and be able to contribute to the transformation of mental illness in the Latino/ Caribbean community in the Houston and surrounding areas.

En Español:

Como Terapeuta bilingüe (inglés / español), soy privilegiada de tener la oportunidad de devolver a mi comunidad un poquito de todo lo que he recibido después de llegar a este país desde mi hermosa Republica Dominicana, Soy parte de una comunidad multicultural en crecimiento que está rompiendo las barreras y los tabúes asociados con las enfermedades de salud mental. Me siento honrada de ser parte de la solución y poder contribuir a la transformación de la ayuda y educación que mi comunidad recibe sobre enfermedades de salud mental en la comunidad latina / caribeña en Houston y las áreas circundantes.



Latinas Rising is excited about our next rising Latina and therapist, she provides terapia in both en español y ingles.  Flor A. Guebara is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the Houston area. In 2011, she received her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston.

Through her years of experience, she has worked with various age groups from children, to adults. She has journeyed with clients as they struggle with chronic illnesses, life threatening situations, grief and loss, accidents, and various traumas.

In her own words:

As your therapist, I would be honored to be your companion throughout your journey. I believe in assisting my clients as they navigate through life’s transitions and challenges. I use an integrative and individualized approach in therapy catered to my client’s needs. My goal is to foster a safe, supportive, and collaborative therapeutic environment for my clients through the use of open and honest communication.

En español:

Mi misión como terapeuta es de ayudar y acompañar a mis clientes en la navegación de las transiciones y desafíos de la vida. Mi deseo es de proporcionar a mis clientes un espacio seguro, lleno de apoyo y respeto durante la terapia.

Contact: 832-510-9205

For more information:



Brenda Moreno is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) psychotherapist in the Sugarland/ Fort Bend area.  In 2012, she received a Master’s degree in Community Counseling from the University of Houston-Victoria.

Brenda has over six years of clinical experience working in the community and school setting by providing  mental health counseling services to children, adolescents, individuals, and families. Brenda has led parenting groups and completed trainings in the Gottman Method to help couples heal from emotional wounds, affairs, and trauma.

In her own words…

As a Houston native, I am proud to be part of a multiculturally diverse community. My mission as a bilingual counselor, fluent in English and Spanish, is to provide services to clients of all backgrounds. I provide Marriage, Couples, and Individual Counseling. I’m bilingual and fluent in Spanish and English.

For more information visit
Contact: 832-420-8680
Evening and weekend appointments available.
Address: Sugar Land- 120 Eldridge Rd Suite D, Sugar Land, TX 77478.

Worry is like an uninvited comadre. Pero esta comadre, THE WORRY COMADRE can be best described as a habitual, dysfunctional, and a constant companion that is difficult to break-up with it.  The Worry Comadre es como una espina que es difícil  de expulsar. Nostors las mujers are at higher risk and twice as likely than men  to suffer from anxiety disorders, pero, Latinas are at an even higher risk. Como, Rocio Ducal says,  “es verdad que la costumbre es mas forte.” Yes, worry is a habit and a distorted way of thinking that results in constantly feeling anxious.

The Worry Comadre embodies doubt and she treats doubt like “PELIGRO.”  I’ll be  honesta, I struggle with anxiety and I too have a pinche Worry Comadre. Pero hay maneras de manejar la preocupación (fear of the unknown). You can change esta costumbre by understanding the following, ” Worry tricks you into thinking DOUBT is a sign of  danger ” hence, we want to avoid the discomfort of doubt like the plague.  I challenge you to try the popular 21/90 rule, commit 21 days straight of telling The Worry Comadre when she comes uninvited the following:

Sin bola de cristal.  Yes, I’m worried and feeling discomfort about_______, but I can’t predict the future. Literally ask yourself, can you predict the future. The answer is likely, NO!

Be the judge. What evidence do you have comadre that supports that three years from now it will rain and you will not have a rain coat.

Write your worry down! Yes, writing your worries down and seeing them on paper can help you think from wise-mind opposed from an emotion- mind. Once written reread it and ask yourself does this sound logical.

Get Grounded.  Connect with nature, beber un té, conectarse a su cuerpo a través del movimiento, or call and chat with a comadre that you trust and listens without judgment.

Terapia. As you know, I’m a psychotherapist and an advocate for encouraging others to engage in therapy. Learning healthier ways to manage worry, but not limited to addressing ansiedad can happen with therapy. Also, MINORTY MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS!

Now, once you have committed to 21 days and established healthier habits to manage worry, continue for 90 days. AHORA HACIA  ADELANTE!

P.S. Si Se Puede

La Consejera





When I was little I remember seeing my “tias” taking care of my grandma or my parents taking care of my “Tatarabuelo”.They would feed them, give them a bath and help them with errands. I really didn’t think much about it. I just thought: We are Family! That is what we do. I saw their acts, their care to others, but I failed to see them.

Later on, when I married my husband I had a close encounter with Autism. Alford, my brother-in-law. I learned so much about compassion, resilience and unconditional love. It was admirable how my Mother-in -Law, “Dona Paquita” like we call her, took care of him. However, I never had a grasp of what it meant to be a caretaker until I had kids of my own and one of them was diagnosed with Autism. There was guilt, depression, anger, blame, despair, confusion and exhaustion. When you are Latina, you have a sense of pride. ¡ Si se puede! ¡ Yo no me quito! You can be exhausted, sick, overwhelmed, scared but you push through. Then, one day your tank is empty and you just feel you can’t handle it anymore. You have exhausted your mind, your body, your spirit and the distance voices of generations and cultural expectations cannot shout out ¡Si se puede! loud enough. You are just “Burned”. That was my story. Can you relate?

To be a caregiver is debilitating mentally and physically. Several studies show how becoming a caregiver can increase your mortality rate by 63% in comparison to others non-caregivers peers of the same age. It is imperative to realize that in order to take care of someone else, you need to take care of yourself. It is important to embrace the reality that you are human and you have needs that are important too. Today, I want you to engage in the practice of refreshing, renewing and resetting.

As a Latina, it has been scripted in our hard-drive that from the moment you wake up You need to be everything, do everything and accomplish everything for your family and any thought of doing something that is just about YOU is Selfish. Things like going to the movies by yourself, attend a Yoga class, having a time to drink coffee with your friends or going to a therapist was considered Selfish or frowned upon. Self-care is not a weakness and doesn’t make you selfish person. I am inviting you to feel confident about creating safe places to refresh yourself, engage in self-care and take care of others without neglecting yourself in the journey.

I can tell you how many times “Voces del pasado” (old voices from the past) made me feel “less than” because my house was not perfect or I still had some basket of laundry waiting to be sorted. I decided to break free. ¡Ser Libre! I realized I needed health, peace, self-care and a sacred space to be me and grow. How can you be the best version of yourself and take care of others if you are unhappy, exhausted, bitter and drowning in a life in which your needs are not important or relevant? A mom that is healthy, centered, inspired, and refreshed is a good mom. A wife that is fulfilled, renewed and in daily awareness of what she wants, is a powerful wife that will inspire and guide her husband. I want to invite you to take care of you. I will share with you the simple things in life that will not take more than 1hr and will take your self-care to the next level.

Start your day with a short meditation. Some people call it prayer, others yoga. Whatever you call it is a time to start your day with a purpose, tell yourself positive affirmations, remind yourself of the positives in your life and declare what you want for you and your family. Every day I wake up at least 1 hour earlier to drink my coffee and feed my mind and my spirit. This few minutes by myself help to renew my mind early in the day. (Estimated 5-10)

Several studies show the benefits of body movement. Body Movement increases metabolism, better mobility, less depression episodes, better sleep and even lowers stress levels. Take 20-30 minutes to walk, do yoga, lift weights or just dance to your favorite playlists. You will be amazed of what a difference this makes. I know the doubt and guilt will try to deviate your attention from this time but push through and remind yourself of how better you would be mentally, physically and emotionally. I can’t tell you what a stress reliever it is when my daughter in the Autism Spectrum is having a difficult day and I just go from a run or a walk. It is a game changer!
It is a refresher!

At the end of the day, evaluate, what was great and what “sucked”. This exercise is important because this is not a pity party of what good or bad Caretaker you are (especially you need with people with Special needs). This is a moment to evaluate your day and make a difference for tomorrow. Is a moment to focus in a solution and brainstorm for the next day. Family life is hard and if you are caretaker, no matter how many developments and conferences you attended you are never fully prepared for the unknown. Identify what happened, think of a different way to approach it and move on. Feeling bad, guilty, depressed and kicking yourself, will not solve the situation and will leave you even more stressed, depressed and less productive. (Estimated time 5-10 minutes). This is when you reset your button, so you can start the next day with a clean slate.

It is okay to realize when you need help. It is okay to cry. It is okay to acknowledge you are overwhelmed and it is important that you do not let guilt surround you and make decisions for you. Today, allow yourself to be free to renew, refresh and reset. Find your safe place and treasure it. Take care of you and always remember to love yourself.

About the author


Giset King is a Puerto Rican native living in Houston. She is a wife, mom, educator, psychologist, autism advocate, blogger and Fitness instructor.

Giset is passionate about empowering and inspiring other women to be holistically healthy. She is a speaker, motivator and mentor for mompreneurs and other women in the Houston Community.

She is also the founder of Café Azul, an organization that inspires, motivates and educates caregivers and family related to individuals in the Autism Spectrum.

@coachgisetk @cafeazultx


Fix your face! Arregla esa cara! Many of us can relate, especially if you grew up in a Black or Latino household paired with a flying shoe or chancla. As children, we inadvertently learn to internalize feelings and emotions, consequently, creeping its way into adulthood. So, when we’re asked, “How are you today?” We fix our faces and say, “fine.” However, it’s okay to express emotion and name those feelings. ¿Pero cómo? We can practice and model healthier ways to manage emotions and outwardly express our feelings.

Here are 5 tips to teach children how to identify feelings and manage emotions:

1. Name the feeling ( Mijo,  you appear upset or it sounds like you’re angry )

2. Talk about how feelings can be expressed (Mijo, getting angry is very normal but it’s not okay to hit others or when mommy gets frustrated I take 3 deep breaths )

3. Offer a deep nurturing connection (HUGS! Yes, a hug goes a long way especially when your child is feeling sad or upset)

4. Resist the urge to punish  (PUT THE CHANCLA DOWN SLOWLY!  Help your child   process and manage emotions, instead of punishing. )

5. Praise and often practice the steps above (great job practicing your breathing or I notice you getting angry but you used your words)

La Consejera 💙-Tasha James

Tasha Circle

About the Author: Tasha James


Oil pic
What’s the Buzz?

It is no secret that healthcare is in a tremulous state. We have no idea what path healthcare will be taking in the future. Many are looking to alternative health care options. Instead of the traditional pharmaceuticals and the co-pays attached many households have incorporated essential oils for healthcare and wellness. At pennies per drop much cheaper than the medical clinic co-pays that range anywhere from $5 to $75 per visit.

What are essential oils? What’s the buzz? Well they have been around much longer than one thinks as far back as biblical times. Essential oils are volatile aromatic compunds that are found in bark, seeds, petals, stem, root etc.These compounds are small organic molecules that tend to change quickly from their solid or liquid state to a gas at room temperature. They are called volatile because they change state quickly. When you first open a bottle of essential oil, you instantly notice that the aroma is potent and you can smell it typically even from some distance. The physical and chemical properties of the volatile aromatic compounds that compose essential oils allow them to quickly move through the air and directly interact with the olfactory sensors in the nose.

Properties vary dependent on the essential oil many carry multiple properies. Frankincense and Copaiba work as an antidepressant, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antitumor, expectorant, immune stimulant, sedative and skin. Like prescription drugs you often have to find the essential oil that works well with your physiological make up. Lavender works well for sleep; however, others with more brain chatter rely on oils like Vetiver or or cedarwood. Most essential oils have little to no side effects but reactions can occur.

Essential oils enter your body initially through your cells within minutes entering through the blood system takes longer 3 to 4 hours. While most essential oils can be applied topically directily on the location a favoriate application is to diffuse the oils. Breathing in the oil is the quickest way for the oils to enter your body. doTerra* essential oils are filler free and most can be taken internally. The entire family can use essential oils including children and animals; however; precautions apply.

So the next time you are sick with the common cold or flu consider the alternative method of essenital oils before you reach for the OTC medicine.

Happy oiling!

* Disclaimer: This article refers to essential oils in a general state; however, doTerra essential oils are referred to when discussing applications.

About the Author

Marcia Sanchez

Marcia is a doTerra Wellness Advocate. She has a 30 year background in healthcare management. She has been using essential oils for over 20 years. She teaches essential oil classes on a weekely basis to large and small groups. Contact Marcia for more information on essential oils or to schedule a class in person or online at 541-419-2101 or via e-mail at Visit Marcia on FB at Two Drops of Oil or instagram Marcia Sanchez