10:36 AM

National expert to discuss mental, emotional effects of pandemic

The The President's Speaker Series: The Big Questions at University of Houston-Clear Lake focuses on the critical educational, social and environmental challenges facing higher education. The next spring 2021 series will feature Dr. Joshua A. Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, presenting "Mental Health and COVID-19: How can Higher Education Help?" virtually Friday, April 23, 10:45 a.m. - 1 p.m.

As NIMH director, the lead federal agency for the research of mental disorders, Gordon oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and clinical research that seeks to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses.

His presentation, said UH-Clear Lake's Chief Strategy Officer and event host Kevin Wooten, will cover the current status of COVID-19, lessons learned, the outlook for the future, and explore ways in which higher education can help create a resilient society and benefit the public's health.

"How higher education deals with the COVID pandemic will greatly shape the future of education generally, the economics of knowledge, and the acceptance of lifelong learning for both personal and occupational success," Wooten said.

The panel discussion, which features Gordon, will also include UHCL College of Human Sciences and Humanities Professors Roberta Leal, Dorothea Lerman, Mary Short and Rick Short, who are professors of social work, behavior analysis, clinical psychology and psychology, respectively.

"Part of the discussion will be about the impact on mental health as a result of COVID on diverse populations," Leal said. "I will focus on Hispanic and African American families, and the overwhelming disproportionate effect the virus has had on them. This population is least likely to be insured, and has the least access to appropriate medical care, and has experienced discrimination when going for vaccines, even when they're eligible."

"The mental health ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reveal societal vulnerabilities that our nation and higher education will need to prepare for and address," said UHCL President Ira K. Blake. "This is particularly important for areas where the availability of mental health services is not equitable."

Each semester, the President's Speaker Series presents two nationally prominent speakers and a panel discussion to initiate dialogue between the university and the community concerning the future of higher education.

Events are free of charge. To learn more and to register, go online.