Trauma and COVID-19: Addressing Mental Health Among Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations

On July 29, 2021, as part of National Minority Mental Health Month, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) hosted a webinar on the mental health impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minority populations to help expand the conversation around the mental health impact of COVID-19 among minority populations.

Moderated by Roslyn Holliday Moore, M.S., Deputy Director for Programs for the Office of Minority Health, and featuring Mary Roary, Ph.D. and Howard Stevenson, Ph.D., the webinar focused on the following learning objectives:

  • Discuss the signs, symptoms, and impact of trauma
  • Share strategies to maintain mental wellness
  • Share mental health programs and resources targeting racial and ethnic minority populations
  • Highlight current federal efforts addressing racism and health inequities



Mary Roary, Ph.D.

  • Director of the Office of Behavioral Health Equity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Adjunct Professor, The Catholic University of America

Dr. Mary Roary is a public health epidemiologist who focuses on infectious and chronic diseases. Dr. Roary is currently the Director of the Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She is also an Adjunct Professor at The Catholic University of America. She has worked across government, academia, and the private industry.

Dr. Roary has worked in two components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since 2013 as a Program Director and Officer. At NIH, Dr. Roary was responsible for Health Promotion, Disease Prevention, Environmental Influences, Health Disparities, low resources in the “IDeA States” and Child Health portfolio. Dr. Roary has developed national funding opportunities, overseen complex budgets, mentored investigators in developing project grants, and disseminated research findings to stakeholders.

Dr. Roary previously served as the data lead for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Office of Minority Health Committees on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Healthy People 2020, and Environmental Justice. She was the Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator for multiple community-based participatory research grants at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Arizona.

Dr. Roary earned her Ph. D. in Epidemiology and was an Epidemiology and Biostatistician CDC fellow at the University of Arizona. She holds several Master’s Degrees from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a Professor at Catholic University of America (CUA). Her ultimate goal is to become an influential champion of eliminating health disparities by identifying and implementing data-driven best practices that promote health equity and wellness.

Recommended Trauma Resources [PDF 57KB]


Howard Stevenson, Ph.D.

  • Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education, Professor of Africana Studies, Human Development & Quantitative Methods Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Executive Director, Racial Empowerment Collaborative

Dr. Howard Stevenson is the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education Exit Disclaimer, Professor of Africana Studies, in the Human Development & Quantitative Methods Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Executive Director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative Exit Disclaimer, designed to promote racial literacy in education, health, and community institutions. He was the former Director of Forward Promise Exit Disclaimer, a national philanthropy that funds community based organizations that help boys and young men of color heal, grow, and thrive above the trauma of historical and present-day dehumanization.

He is a nationally recognized clinical psychologist and researcher on negotiating racial conflicts. His book, Promoting Racial Literacy in Schools: Differences that Make a Difference Exit Disclaimer summarizes this work. Two National Institutes of Health funded research projects examine the benefits of racial literacy and culturally responsive interventions. The PLAAY (Preventing Long-term Anger and Aggression in Youth) Exit Disclaimer Project uses basketball and group therapy to help youth and parents cope with stress and trauma from violence and social rejection. Dr. Stevenson also co-led the SHAPE-UP: Barbers Building Better Brothers Project Exit Disclaimer with Drs. Lorretta and John Jemmott, training Black barbers as health educators to teach Black 18-24 year old males to reduce their risk of -- HIV/STDS and retaliation violence -- while they are cutting hair.

He received the 2020 Gittler Prize Exit Disclaimer, by Brandeis University, for outstanding and lasting scholarly contributions to racial, ethnic, and/or religious relations. He was also listed in the 2021 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings Exit Disclaimer of the top university-based scholars in the U.S. who did the most to shape educational practice and policy. In 2021, Dr. Stevenson was elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (NAED) Exit Disclaimer. The NAEd advances high quality education research and its use in policy and practice and consists of U.S. and international associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarship related to education.

Dr. Stevenson’s research focuses on helping children and adults assert themselves during face-to-face microaggressions. Key to this racial healing work is the use of culture to reduce in-the-moment threat reactions, increase access to memory, physical mobility, and voice, and prevent long-term health detriment. He is the father of two sons, Bryan and Julian.

Recommended Trauma Resources [PDF 101KB]