The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of all age groups. Students and adolescents report that the pandemic has had significant impacts on their mental health, as they’ve missed out on major life events and adjusted to distance learning. At the same time, the pandemic has exacerbated mental health inequities across minority and vulnerable groups, particularly among Black and Latino youth. Schools have been instrumental in providing mental health supports and interventions, even before the pandemic, and communities, policymakers, and researchers also play a role in implementing school-based mental health services. Mental Health First Aid is one such intervention that has helped schools respond to students’ mental health needs in both a low-cost and high-impact manner. How have schools and others adapted during the pandemic to address students’ mental health needs, and what will change going forward?

In this Web Forum, our speakers will address:

  • Lessons learned from the 2020 school year and potential approaches for 2021
  • How communities, advocates, researchers, and policymakers can partner with one another to implement Mental Health First Aid during the pandemic; and
  • Evidence-based strategies to improve mental health equity through Mental Health First Aid.

This one-hour discussion is the second in the Web Forum series Equity in COVID-19: Bridging the Gap Between Public Health and Policy, brought to you by the Public Health Institute and IMPAQ, a subsidiary of the American Institutes for Research. The series explores “in-the-news" topics, such as mental health; housing and health outcomes; and environmental health and climate change, and provides actionable insights to address equity issues by translating research into policy and practice.


Kimberly Kendziora, PhD

Managing Researcher

American Institutes for Research

Kimberly Kendziora is trained in clinical psychology with a focus on child behavior. She has been at AIR for 22 years, where her work focuses on research and evaluation of school- and community-based student support initiatives. She has specific expertise in research on programs related to students’ social and emotional…

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Brooke Briggance

Deputy Director

FACES for the Future Coalition

Oakland, CA

S. Brooke Briggance comes from a multi-sector background in health, direct impact programming for children, youth and families, and public education non-profit work. She began her career in healthcare in the Department of Neurology at SUNY Stony Brook in New York, and has experience in administrative leadership and public education advocacy…

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JeriKay Wynn

School Counselor

Corbin Elementary School

JeriKay Wynn began her training as an undergraduate student at Eastern Kentucky University, where she received a bachelor of science in elementary education, with an added certification in middle grades language arts, while working in local school systems. She then received a master of arts in education, school counseling. As…

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Mary Pittman, DrPH

President and CEO

Public Health Institute

Oakland, CA

Mary A. Pittman, DrPH, is chief executive officer and president of the Public Health Institute (PHI) in Oakland, California. A nationally recognized leader in improving community health, addressing health inequities among vulnerable people and promoting quality of care, Pittman became in 2008 PHI’s second CEO and president since its founding…

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