MHW: Partnership Addresses MH Needs of African-American Students

NYAPRS Note: According to a recent poll, African-American students feel less academically and emtionally prepared for college than their peers, and are less likely to reach out for support. As a result, a partnership between the Jed Foundation and the Steve Fund has been formed to respond to these student’s feelings of marginalization, and recommend best practices to colleges and universities to improve mental health support for this population.

 

Partnership Addresses Unmet MH Needs Of Students Of Color

Mental Health Weekly January 18, 2016

 

Black students feel less academically and emotionally prepared for college than their peers, and are less likely to reach out for support, according to the results of a national Harris Poll survey released January 13. The new findings have prompted two mental health organizations to collaborate to provide recommended practices to colleges and universities to improve mental health support for this population.

 

The partnership is between the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit working to protect the emotional health of students at colleges and universities, and the Steve Fund, a philanthropic organization that promotes the mental health of young people of color.

 

“We already knew that students of color are feeling marginalized in terms of campus life and not ready to be on campuses emotionally,” Victor Schwartz, M.D, medical director of the Jed Foundation, told MHW. Black students, particularly males, are reluctant to reach out emotionally when they’re experiencing stress, said Schwartz. There is a great deal of speculation on the causes, but it may have something to do with students not wanting to let their families down in many cases, he said.

 

“The survey affirmed things that we already thought to be the case,” said Schwartz. To counteract that feeling of marginalization, the Jed Foundation and Steve Fund will develop a survey of schools, counseling services and student services to determine effective programs and interventions that will support the mental health of students, said Schwartz.

 

Both organizations will also work with McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., to review current literature regarding students of color and mental health. “We want to hear about approaches to programming that are going to make a difference,” Schwartz said.

 

Once the data are compiled, the organizations will develop a comprehensive set of recommended practices for improving support for the mental health of students of color on college campuses, officials said.

 

Survey Results

The survey was conducted by Harris Poll between March 25 and April 17, 2015, among 1,502 students 17 to 20 years old currently attending a two-year or three-year college and currently a first-year student/ freshman in their second term.

 

The results of the survey were reanalyzed and conducted by JED, Partnership for Drug Free Kids and The Jordan Porco Foundation.

 

Among the findings, Caucasian students are more likely than black and Hispanic students to say they have ever been diagnosed or treated for depression (25 percent vs. 16 percent and 18 percent) and anxiety (27 percent vs. 12 percent and 17 percent).

 

Other key findings:

  • Black students are more likely than Caucasian students to report feeling overwhelmed most or all of the time (51 percent vs. 40 percent).
  • Black students are more likely than Caucasian students to say they tend to keep their feelings about the difficulty of college to themselves (75 percent vs. 61 percent).
  • Black students were less likely than Caucasians to regularly consume alcohol (16 percent vs. 26 percent) and less likely to report regularly consuming illegal drugs (0 percent vs. 3 percent) during their first term.

 

“The partnership between the Steve Fund and The Jed Foundation will allow us to make significant progress in addressing an alarming deficit in effective, culturally relevant and broadly-adopted mental health programming for students of color in our nation’s colleges and universities,” Evan Rose, president of the Steve Fund, said in a press release.

 

Survey results can be found at http://settogo.org/the-research.