State of Black Mental Health Conference, July 28

Dr. Brittany Peters’ Center for Wellness & Clinical Development will host its second annual State of Black Mental Health on Wednesday, July 28.

By J. S. Cooper, Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — The U.S. House of Representatives announced in 2008 that every July would be National Minority Mental Health Month to help bring awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.

In honor of National Minority Mental Health Month, the Center for Wellness and Clinical Development will host its second annual State of Black Mental Health event. The virtual dialogue will be held July 28 from 6:30-8 p.m. via Zoom and will feature a courageous conversation about mental health in the Black community.

This is a virtual panel discussion from leaders across the state of Florida. Recent data and trends will be presented and reviewed. The panelists include Mutaqee Akbar Esq., Judge Alicia Latimore, educator Liltera Lewis, veteran Pernell Bush, Rev. Kenneth F. Irby from St. Petersburg Police Department, and therapist Dr. Brittany Peters.

“We wanted to bring in other professions and have a challenging dialogue about what we’re seeing in our own community,” said Dr. Peters.

Peters, a licensed clinical social worker, founded the Center for Wellness & Clinical Development in Feb. 2018. The center provides behavioral health assessments, individual and group therapy, and adults experiencing a range of behavioral health symptoms, including substance use disorders.

The Center for Wellness additionally focuses on training and development for social work licensure interns and licensed professionals through developing and hosting continuing education courses and conferences in the community.

The center’s mission is to respond to the mental health needs of the community through providing culturally competent services to members of the community and training to the therapists who serve the community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for racial and ethnic minority groups to access mental health and substance use treatment services. The 2021 State of Mental Health in America report conducted by Mental Health America indicates from Feb. to Sept. of 2020, the percentage of Black people reporting suicidal ideation increased from 29 percent to 38 percent.

“A lot of times, there’s this myth that Black people don’t commit suicide, but we are seeing that is truly not the case,” said Dr. Peters.

There is a longstanding belief in the Black community that mental health concerns are taboo, a stigma that contributes to a reluctance to recognize the need for the help of a physician or therapist.

Wednesday’s discussion will focus on the areas in which mental health challenges are most prevalent: the educational system, the criminal justice system, and child welfare. The discussion will provide insight from diverse perspectives.

The panel will discuss some of the trends found in the 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, including the elevated rates of mental health challenges among African Americans during COVID-19 and traumas that Black people face because of untreated mental health.

The virtual State of Black Mental Health conversation will be held Wednesday, July 28, 6:30 p.m.  To register, visit


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