MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Professional speaker and best-selling author David Magee is visiting the Gulf Coast for an important conversation.

Magee will speak about the challenges of mental health and substance misuse on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Dunlap Auditorium at UMS-Wright Preparatory School.


The evening will focus on “what students face today in a changing world, empowering teens to find and keep joy, how to have the right conversations and when, and what to expect in the college experience,” according to a news release.

Magee — author of two best-selling novels, “Dear William” and “Things Have Changed” — attended a leadership conference at UMS-Wright over the summer and spoke about these topics with Mobile community leaders. They realized what he preached needs to be shared with the community.

“We all have to have that conversation,” Magee said.

A Personal Topic

For Magee, teen challenges are personal. He lost his son, William, to a drug overdose. In addition, he himself struggled with alcohol addiction for years.

After his son’s death, Magee started the William Magee Center at the University of Mississippi in 2017. Its mission is to provide “education, intervention, and support services, to enhance student well-being and foster student success,” the website states.

“The center is so important because what I realized is we’re moving into a new era in high school, colleges and universities,” Magee said. “It’s not enough to just have a nurse and an infirmary.”

Raising awareness for all ages

Magee said the center at Ole Miss is just the beginning, with the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing that “seeks to understand how best to prevent or break that cycle of unhealthy habits and addictions,” according to the website.

Magee said there also are plans for external work for K-12 schools as well as for the university.

Wednesday, Magee will look to touch and inspire lives in Mobile.

“One of our southern communities that is really growing,” Magee said. “What happens in Mobile is so important.”

Magee wants people to leave the event knowing two things.

“No. 1, we can solve this,” Magee said. “We can certainly get this out of the epidemic stage. No. 2, we need to know how to communicate with teens. It takes a village; it really does.”