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Presented By: LSA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Black College Student Mental Health: What institutions need to know and do to support healing and thriving in a time of racial crisis

Tabbye Chavous, NCID Director

We're better when we're united We're better when we're united
We're better when we're united
 Clay Banks on Unsplash
Along with academic impacts, college contexts can serve to support or challenge students’ personal development and well-being in important ways. Increasingly, researchers and higher education institutions are paying attention to college student mental health, but less of this focus has considered the specific contextual experiences, challenges, and supports relevant to Black students’ mental health as they enter and navigate predominantly White institutions (PWI). College student research shows that, along with the social and academic challenges of college experienced by most/all students, Black students routinely report negative race-related experiences in their PWI settings - microaggressions and discrimination; biased stereotype-based treatment, low expectations; and both isolation/exclusion and hypervisibility (over-monitoring as suspicious or dangerous) due to race. Black students’ racially marginalizing experiences are sometimes tied to students’ multiple identities (e.g., their race along with their ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientations, among other identities). Such devaluing experiences have been linked to poorer academic achievement and persistence outcomes, but these experiences likely function to undermine mental health as well.

Now more than ever, a focus on Black college student mental health is critical. In 2020, Black students are entering their college campuses (in-person or remotely) after a summer of widespread protests against anti-Black police violence and systemic racism, sparked by public witnessing of videos depicting murders and brutalizing of Black Americans by police. Many Black students are also coming from communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the knowledge that these differential impacts are directly and indirectly due to systemic racism. Thus, while Black students bring many personal and cultural strengths to their campuses that can be leveraged to support their positive college adjustment, they also experience unique challenges and vulnerabilities due to racism - both on their campuses and in the broader society - that can undermine their well-being and thriving on campus. Higher education must be accountable in understanding Black student experiences and, importantly, acting on this knowledge to meet the goals of supporting and serving all students equitably.

This webinar will feature the research of three scholars actively engaged in research on the positive mental health of Black college students. All are grant recipients of the 2020 National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) Pop-Up Grant program cycle, themed around Mental Health among Marginalized Communities, and co-sponsored in partnership with The Steve Fund. Each scholar will share research findings yielded from their grant projects and outline specific implications and recommendations for research and action.


· Tabbye Chavous, NCID Director and Professor of Psychology and Education, University of Michigan


· Seanna Leath, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

· Martinique Jones, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology and Counseling, University of North Texas

· Carmen McCallum, Department of Leadership and Counseling, Eastern Michigan University

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