Study: College Students of Color Need More Mental Health Support


Two leading mental health organizations have announced a partnership in an effort to offer suggestions to colleges and universities that can improve support for the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color.

The Jed Foundation (JED) and the Steve Fund announced their joint plan, “The First-Year College Experience: A Look into Students’ Challenges and Triumphs During Their First Term at College,” at the same time as new data showing the importance of updating mental health support for this student population.

The 2015 national survey, conducted by JED, Partnership for Drug Free Kids and The Jordan Porco Foundation, showed the need for mental health support, education, and programming for college students of color throughout the nation, finding a number of discrepancies in the freshman college experience for students of color and their peers.

According to results, 50% of white students felt academically prepared for their first college term compared to 36% of African-American students and 39% of Hispanic students.  Caucasian students were also found to feel more emotionally prepared than their peers, with 35% of white students reporting these feelings in comparison with 23% of African-American students.

Meanwhile, 57% of African-American students reported feeling that the college experience did not live up to their expectations, in comparison with 46% of white students.  This student group was also found to be more likely to report feeling that everyone knew what they wanted out of college but them, with 52% of black students agreeing with this sentiment versus 49% of Hispanic students and 41% of white students.

African-American students were also found to be more likely to say they keep their feelings concerning the difficulties they encounter while in college to themselves — 75% of black students felt this way in comparison with just 61% of white students.

Based upon this research, the two organizations plan on creating a set of guidelines to allow educators, students, and their families make informed decisions that result in effective support for the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color.  These services will work with the goal of offering students tools needed to reduce shame, prejudice, and stigma associated with mental health challenges, in addition to reducing suicide rates among the population.

“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,” said Evan Rose, President of the Steve Fund.

Together, we will provide practical, actionable recommendations to stimulate dialogue and best practices that reduce stigma, build knowledge, and support assistance so that young people of color can thrive in higher education environments.”

The two foundations plan to continue their research over the next few months, while working with college leaders and mental health professionals to develop a comprehensive set of recommended practices to offer the best services possible to students of color.