Orlando event focuses on important conversations about Black mental health

Event happens Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.

The city of Orlando is working to get results this Black History Month raising awareness about mental health in the Black community.

The city of Orlando is working to get results this Black History Month raising awareness about mental health in the Black community.

City leaders are partnering with Black mental health professionals for an important movement they’re calling Black Mental Health Matters.

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On Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m., they’re hosting a virtual event featuring live performances and small group discussions to talk important conversations about mental health in the Black community.

The conversation is coming at a time where suicide rates are on the rise and mental health is a struggle for so many people.

The Black Mental Health Matters event is in an effort to spark important conversations about emotional wellness, provide a space for community healing, and prevent suicide. The goal is also to provide resources and hope.

City leaders are partnering with local nonprofit and organizations like Peer Support Space and No Limit Health and Education.

Jeffrey McCary Jr., is one of the event organizers. He’s on the Board Vice President of Peer Support Space and has also helped organize previous events bringing mental health issues to the forefront.

“I want people to take away from this event helpful resources in the community, as well as understanding how taking better care of our mental health will benefit our families and communities for generations past and future,” McCary said.

McCary said these types of events are vital.

“It is important to bring awareness to the mental health needs in our Black communities. People of color are more likely to experience a serious mental health condition and not receive services for treatment,” McCary said.

He’s been going to counseling for years mostly for anxiety, and he knows it works.

“I know how much it helped me in a short amount of time, so I know it can help somebody else,” said McCary. “A lot of people experience some of the same stuff, it’s just kind of how it goes, but we don’t talk about it.”

The panelists will include mental health experts, advocates from the LBGTQ community, and more.

News 6 spoke with two people on the city’s Black History Month committee.

“I learned that it’s a process and things don’t happen overnight,” said Jamilah Felix, the Neighborhood Relations Coordinator for the city of Orlando.

Feix explained how she found support and a safe space to heal after she was severely burned when her home caught fire last year.

“It’s OK to be a Black woman and say, ‘I need a break from everything,’ and that’s what’s I did. I took a break, and I got the help I needed.”

Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet is also on the city’s Black History Month Committee. He said he assisted many survivors from the Pulse Nightclub shooting find help after the tragedy.

“It’s not always easy, especially for a man to say ‘I’m not OK, I need time,” said Lazaballet. He works in the city’s Office of Multicultural Affairs as the Inclusion, Diversity & Equity Senior Specialist.

To register for Thursday’s virtual event and to learn about the panelists, click or tap here.

About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.