Culture | March 21st, 2023
Black Minds Matter
By: Kyla Sanford
Miss Black Florida USA, Essynce Mackey, is becoming the helping hand she needed during her time as an undergrad with her mental health initiative, Black Minds Matter.
Black Minds Matter focuses on advocating for Black-identifying students within Florida institutions with education and mental health resources.
“I really just want to find ways for students to be able to feel supported, not only by their administrators or faculty and stuff but also by other students,” says the University of Florida graduate student.
Black Minds Matter Program
The Black Minds Matter program which launched in February has aimed to connect students with one another through student-led activities. Some of the activities include “Mental Health Check-ins” and educational events right on campuses to cultivate safe spaces and inform students about their resources.
Some sessions have even informed students about free therapy options and using insurance. Letting students know what “they currently have (available) to (help) deal with those battles.”
Mackey was a student leader during her undergrad including serving on the Royal Court for all four years. Also, a member of the President’s Round Table, operating her own mentorship program and more. She shares her battles with anxiety and depression.
Mackey shares sentiments with FAMU student leaders who continue to put themselves on the backburners “but never taking that time to kind of focus” on themselves.
“Just knowing how I felt… I don’t want anyone else to feel that way,” said Mackey.
Including All Black Minds
Shifting her focus from Black women to all Black students was a way to pay homage to Mackey’s younger brother who is on his own personal mental health journey.
While Mackey continues to pursue her master’s degree, she has found a team of four ambassadors in these Florida schools to help spearhead the initiative: Florida A&M, Bennet College, Central State University, and the University of Florida.
Florida A&M’s ambassador is first-year sociology student, Shawn’dasia Taylor.
As the program looks to extend, Black Minds Matter is currently looking to add more people to their team as ambassadors through the four participating Florida universities. Students are encouraged to join this mental health movement. By reaching out to ambassadors of their respective schools if they are looking to help fundraise or run social media, public relations, and event planning.
Outside of serving, students can look forward to flyers from their school’s personalized Black Minds matter social media page @BMMFAMU on Instagram for updates on events. They can also find mental health notes from Mackey on her Instagram @missblackfl.
Mackey’s Instagram page will be used to personally connect with students as she launches her Instagram Live campaign. Where students will have the opportunity to talk to Mackey about their mental health journeys and questions.
Mackey humbly states her goal during her reign as Miss Black Florida USA and through her hand in trailblazing this new initiative is to “touch somebody and make them feel comfortable and safe in their skin.”