Impact of Inequity & COVID-19 on the Mental Health of Black Youth

In 2020, the threat to the physical and mental well-being of Black youth is especially high. COVID-19 and acts of police brutality nationwide have increased the stress and sense of social isolation young Black people experience. Additionally, according to the Congressional Black Caucus, the rate of suicide among Black youth is rising faster than any other racial/ethnic group. Together, these factors put the mental health of Black youth particularly at risk. From parents and caregivers to educators and concerned citizens, this is an issue that affects us all. Join us for a critical discussion on the state of mental health among Black youth to destigmatize mental illness and learn about available resources.

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About the Host

Nancy Alvarez

Nancy Alvarez, WFTV News Anchor and Host of WUCF TV’s NewsNight

Nancy Alvarez is a bilingual news anchor and reporter for Central Florida’s ABC affiliate, WFTV Channel 9 and host of NewsNight on PBS affiliate, WUCF- TV. Over the last 20 years, she has played a role in covering every major story in the region including hurricanes, political events and the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in June of 2016. Nancy began her career as a reporter covering the space program in Brevard County providing live coverage of countless launches and landings. She was on the runway in Florida waiting for the space shuttle Columbia when it broke apart over Texas during reentry. She was among the first reporters on the air covering the tragedy from the Kennedy Space Center. Nancy was also on the front line for the infamous 2004 Hurricane Season when three hurricanes hit Florida in less than two months. 

More recently, Nancy was one of the first reporters on the ground in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island in 2017. Over the course of multiple trips, she provided coverage of the impacts of the storm both on the island and in Florida as storm evacuees moved to the mainland. She was also there for the political unrest that led to the resignation of the island’s governor in 2019. She also works as a public speaker and has used her reporting experience to advocate for issues including domestic violence and the challenges facing special needs kids in schools. Nancy is a first generation Cuban American and lives in Orlando with her husband and two children.

About the Panelists

Candice W. Jones, MD, FAAP

Candice W. Jones, MD, FAAP, Edgewater Pediatrics

Candice W. Jones, MD, FAAP is a board-certified physician practicing as a general pediatrician in Orlando, Fl. She provides a standard of care that enriches the lives of thousands of kids and parents each year. Dr. Candice is committed to the health and well-being of underserved children and adolescents in areas affected the greatest by health inequalities. Dr. Candice completed residency in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD. She earned her Medical Doctorate at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA. She is a Spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), member of its’ Council on Communications and Media (COCM) and Florida Chapter (FCAAP). 

Dr. Candice steps out of the exam room to support various charitable organizations, children health initiatives and to promote wellness in the community. For her efforts, she was awarded in 2018 the Health Empowerment Award by the Central Florida Urban League and the Public Health Hero Award by the Department of Health Orange County. Dr. Candice has special interest in medical media because of its’ educational reach. In 2016, she launched DrCandiceMD.com, a website focused on kid health education. She also created a podcast, KIDing Around with Dr. Candice where she discusses various pediatric and parenting topics with other experts. She has been featured on news-Fox 35, News 13 and WFTV 9 ABC; on radio-90.7 WMFE, News 96.5 WDBO, SiriusXM Doctor Radio, The Michael Baisden Show and The Tom Joyner Morning Show, on various podcasts including the AAP’s Healthy Children Podcast; on many health panels and as a dynamic guest speaker. Learn more about Dr. Candice >

Davia Knight

Davia Knight, Outpatient Telehealth Therapist, IMPOWER

Davia Knight (RMHI) is a Telehealth Clinician at IMPOWER. Davia received her bachelor’s in Social Science from The Florida State University, her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University, Sarasota. Davia began her career at Aspire Health Partners in Orlando, FL where she counseled elementary students in one of the toughest/problem schools in Orlando creating an after school group that encouraged children to heal through a variety of therapeutic interventions. She then began counseling adolescents and adults including pretrial release clients, substance abuse court ordered clients, and dually diagnosed clients via psychosocial rehabilitation groups as well as working with clients individually utilizing trauma informed care. Davia began working at IMPOWER in 2019 at The Grove Youth Residential Substance Abuse Treatment Program in which she facilitated psychosocial rehabilitation groups to adolescents. Davia then transitioned into the Telehealth Outpatient program and began work with the survivors of human trafficking as well as young single mother’s with a mental health diagnosis. She specializes in assisting adults and children, with reaching their empowered selves by implementing techniques such as: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Expressive Arts, Play Therapy, and Reality Therapy with a focus on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, substance use/abuse, grief and loss, and other chronic illnesses. 

Jeffrey McCary

Jeffrey McCary, Director of Operations and Research, Outlook Mental Health Clinic & Mental Health Association of Central Florida

Jeffrey McCary is the Director of Operations and Research for the Outlook Mental Health Clinic, Orlando’s only outpatient mental health clinic that offers free Psychiatric and Individual therapy for qualified uninsured residents of Central Florida. He also works for the Mental Health Association of Central Florida in advocating as well as spreading awareness for mental health needs in the community. As a Master’s level Social Worker, Jeffrey has experience in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) with special interest in treating Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD. Also, as an active board member for Peer Support Space, Jeffrey is expanding his outreach of supportive networks to diverse communities in the Central Florida region to bridge the gaps in service delivery.  With nearly 10 years of experience in working with those in crisis, Jeffrey’s passion to help people in need start’s with reducing stigma in order to lift mental barriers.

Tamia A. McEwen, PhD

Tamia A. McEwen, PhD, Peer Professional, Wellness Advocate, Peer Support Space 

Tamia A. McEwen, Ph.D., Yoga & Wellness Instructor & Owner of Be Well Friends, advocates for whole health and wellness through lifestyle change based on the pillars of caring for self, relating to others, and contributing to society. She began her career in public education and currently advocates for mental and physical wellness through local and national Peer Support Networks. She holds a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Curriculum & Instruction (C&I), Masters of Arts (MA) in Secondary Reading, Yoga & Wellness Certification that includes Level 1 Qigong. She sees herself as a life learner, space holder and advocates separating her wellness journey into three phases: 1) Having an initial psychotic episode at 23 years old as mental illness discovery 2) Managing a life of medication, healthy living, and advocacy during her wellness recovery phase 3) Adapting to a lifestyle as wellness after medication side effects & a uterine fibroids diagnosis to thrive beyond a traditional approach to mental health. Her desire is to provide tools for people to be able to do the good they desire to do without “dying on the vine” of advocacy. Intentional wellness is her means of creating space for mind-body balance, showing up in the world as our best selves to do as much good as we can for as long as we can. She provides holistic wellness support through her company Be Well, Friends LLC and can be contacted through info@macbewell.com or followed @dr_tamiamc. Learn more about Peer Support Space, Peer Coalition of Florida, and Be Well, Friends LLC

Well Beings is a national campaign from public media, in collaboration with a coalition of partners, including PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs and their student journalists, created to address America’s health needs. The campaign debuts with the Youth Mental Health Project, emphasizing youth’s mental health and voices to raise awareness, address stigma, and encourage compassion.

The Well Beings Tour is making its way to 34 cities across the country, 2020 – 2022, in collaboration with public media stations, local community organizations, national sponsors, and partners. Through resources, panel discussions, youth storytelling, performances, Mental Health First Aid Training, and more, the Well Beings Tour will convene and connect communities in a joint effort to address stigma and raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing.

WellBeings Central Florida Mental Health Resource Toolkit

Download the Well Beings Central Florida Mental Health Resource Toolkit >

WellBeings.org is a mental health resource, not a crisis or suicide response website. If you are in crisis, or experiencing thoughts of suicide, please text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741), or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.