Breaking News
More () »

On Your Mind: "How Are You… Really?"

Youvolve Healing Center in downtown Corpus Christi opened its doors at the height of the pandemic, and works with people of all ages: from children to seniors.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Mental health: it’s a conversation more people are having and becoming more comfortable having, whether that is with themselves or with others. 

In our new 3News series, ‘On Your Mind,’ we explore the different avenues these conversations can take, and the resources here locally that can help guide us through it all. 

This week we’re introduced to Youvolve Healing Center in downtown Corpus Christi, who is asking the question: “How are you?… Really?”

Youvolve Healing Center opened its doors at the height of the pandemic. Co-founder, Melica Wiley, who is also a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, explained that she found a lot of people were struggling and their usual go-to distractions from life’s problems, simply weren’t there anymore due to lockdown or that they just weren’t working.

“What we noticed is that a lot of people were experiencing anxiety, depression, relationship distress,” Wiley said. “During the pandemic, it gave us permission to start to explore it right? And so if we had spent decades, months, years avoiding ourselves -  that was the perfect time to start looking at skills.” 

She pointed out that sadly, there still appears to be a stigma surrounding seeking help when it comes to one’s mental health.

“There is this misconception that if I go to therapy, I am crazy. Something has to be wrong, and we’re really trying to work on breaking that myth because actually going to therapy can be a lot more preventative,” Wiley said. “It is OK, you are not crazy if you go to therapy, you are doing the right thing.” 

Encouraging others that you don’t have to figure it out alone, but that it does begin with recognizing that you want that extra help.

 “Honestly, you did the hardest step by picking up the phone and calling and making the appointment.” 

And it seems as though more Coastal Bend residents are hearing that message. 

According to Wiley, in 2021, Youvolve gained 235 clients and booked 1,179 appointments. 

In 2022, as of late June, Youvolve gained 214 clients, and had booked 1,084 appointments. 

The clients who make the call and come through the doors at Youvolve range in age. Wiley said they’ve seen clients as young as three-years-old whose parents wanted to bring them in regarding behavioral concerns to clients in their late 70s, who are just beginning their therapy journey.

It’s a heavy lift, but she doesn’t do it alone.

Some of the younger clients will visit with “Dr. Julia” Dell’Aguila-Linares, a therapist at Youvolve who works primarily with children and adolescents navigating major life transitions such as divorce, relocation, parent reunification and much more.

“Having to move to two homes is really confusing a lot of the times and helping them understand that experience,” Dr. Julia said. “A lot of times, children act out what it is they’re experiencing inside and at times, they lack the emotional ability or intelligence to articulate what it is that’s going on. So, we’ll see a lot of the difficulties they’re having internally present themselves externally through different behaviors, challenging behaviors, tantrums, things of that nature.” 

She works with the children through play therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. She encourages parents to take note of big or even slight changes in their child’s behaviors, and ask them basic questions to check-in that could potentially lead to more casual, open and honest dialogue, such as: 

How was your day? Did anything big happen today?

“Their emotions manifest through their actions,” Dr. Julia said. “An extra offer of support is always beneficial for children and just creates more of a community to help them grow.” 

The reasons why people come in, or bring in someone they love, vary. 

Amanda Almendarez is a domestic violence survivor and now works to help other survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault find healing.  

“I’ve had my own traumas in my own life and that’s what brought me to the counseling field. I had a counselor who basically saved my life, and so I was like, ‘I want to be that person for someone else,’” Almendarez shared. “My goal is to build a foundation first and then we’ll go back and work through the trauma.”

Almendarez explained there tends to be a common question surrounding emotionally or physically abusive relationships.

“‘Why didn’t you leave sooner?’ The reality it takes almost someone seven times to leave a relationship for the final time because there’s such a trauma bond between the two individuals that it does take time, so all you can really do is be there.” 

Time. Sometimes it’s shorter for others to realize they need to reach out for help, and as Almendarez explains, for others it could take years. 

“It’s interesting. I see more individuals that something happened to them as a child and they're an adult in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and it’s still affecting them because they never went to therapy,” Almendarez said. 

“So, whether they were sexually assaulted as a child or their parents were abusive in front of them or something like that, they’re still dealing with it today. So, a lot of the individuals I see it’s not a present-day trauma, it’s something that happened a long time ago.”

All three specialists agree: there is no wrong time to begin exploring your mental health and seeking therapy, and that the right time is when you take the first step in reaching out for help: whether that be with family, friends or a local resource such as Youvolve.

Youvolve is currently in the works of launching a new mental health advocacy program, that will be free and open to the community. It’s designed to help you learn different ways to listen and be there for someone in your circle - whether that be at work, among friends or family - who may be going through something tough.

“Being a community where I wanna take one small change in my language so I can sit with someone going through something mental health wise and be able to support them,” Wiley said. 

“It is okay for me to not fix someone. I can go a long way hearing what someone is saying and just being like, ‘wow, that’s a lot for you. Have you considered talking to someone?’ 

Just being there can make all the difference.

Until that program launches, staff at Youvolve encourage residents to take advantage of their monthly mental health wellness and workshops, that are also open to everyone, not just counseling clients. Their next workshop will be Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. with Dr. Julia hosting: "If You Don’t Stop Crying: How to Handle Children’s Feelings."

If you would like to learn more about the programs, to book an appointment with Youvolve or even a 15 minute consultation, you can contact them at: 361-585-4664, or by clicking here. 

If there is a local group or resource that has helped you in your mental health journey, we'd love to hear about it! If you'd like to share your story, you can contact 3News anchor Leslie Adami at ladami@kiiitv.com 


Breaking barriers: Bringing mental health awareness to minority communities

'Texas children are suffering': Calallen ISD board asks TEA to prioritize mental health over standardized testing

CCISD's 'Caring Corner' helps prepare students for the upcoming school year

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline shortened to 988

Educators look to bring mental health care services to rural areas


Before You Leave, Check This Out