#2: How Race Affects our Mental Health

Hey there, and welcome to Real Talk with Gen Z, a new podcast mini-series. This is a conversation show. Members of Gen Z talk with experts in mental health. They discuss the unique experiences of our generation and explore crucial mental health topics.

During the pandemic, over one-third of teens reported experiencing racism and the rates were highest among Asian (63.9%), Black (55.2%), and multiracial students (54.5%).

These experiences of racism can lead to poor concentration, memory issues, and feelings of isolation, among other things.

In this episode of Real Talk with Gen Z our co-hosts Simone Counts and Daniel Kim are joined by Dr. Sofia B. Pertuz, a senior advisor for the JED Foundation, to share their real-life experiences and discuss the impacts of race on mental health.

Host and Guest bios below:

Dr. Sofia B. Pertuz is a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professional with over 25 years of experience leading strategic planning, assessment, and critical incident management for higher education, nonprofit and corporate organizations. Sofia is a senior advisor for JED, having previously served as JED’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. Sofia is currently Managing Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Billie Jean King Enterprises and founder of Mainstream Insight LLC, leading organizations towards inclusive excellence. Sofia has presented keynotes and training workshops to international audiences on topics in culturally responsive mental health support, change management, social justice, racial equity, and LGBTQ advocacy, in both English and Spanish. Sofia has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication from SUNY New Paltz and earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy from Seton Hall University. Sofia also holds a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion for HR from Cornell University and is a Society for Human Resource Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Simone Counts is 25-year-old young professional and a mental health advocate who is passionate about achieving health equity, improving health outcomes and serving her community. In 2018, she graduated from Howard University with a degree in Health Management. She is an associate in the Leadership Development Program at CVS Health where she co-founded the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. During her first rotation she supported the Aetna Mental-Wellbeing Strategic Initiatives team which influenced her to start a personal mental health blog called Everything Counts. Following her first rotation she supported the Aetna NY Medicaid Business Operations team and currently she supports CVS Health’s Workforce Initiatives Business Development & Special Projects team. In her current role she works to develop customized training & development programming to prepare people, especially those in disenfranchised communities for the workforce. The programs help break down some of the barriers people face when transitioning into employment. In her free time she loves to travel, be surrounded by friends and family and be active.

Daniel Kim (He/Him) is a University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis and minors in Statistics & Analytics and Chemistry (May 2021). He interned as a project manager with CVS Health and is now working with strategic insights for Aetna Mental Wellbeing, Behavioral Health. He’s an active member of the UNC community serving as a research consultant for cardiovascular disease in North Carolina and is passionate about mental health, technology, graphic design, and E-commerce.

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