Together, we must make mental health and wellness a priority. We must identify mental health concerns on campus and nurture honest conversations about what change means as we validate each person’s voice and encourage help seeking. We must reduce stigma, recognize the impact of societal experiences, and reduce barriers to care. Change must take place in the classroom, on the field, in sororities and fraternities, and in the administration. What actions will you take? 

The Steve Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and Thurgood Marshall College Fund, launched an unprecedented national effort, Unapologetically Free: Centering Mental Health on Black College Campuses with culturally responsive programs, convenings, and opportunities to support mental health on Black college campuses. See and events listed below.

your mental health matters

On campus
Our students face a mental health crisis

For HBCU leaders, employing holistic resources and non-traditional strategies can enhance mental health on campus so that young people of color thrive, achieving their personal, academic, and career goals. The period from adolescence to adulthood is a stressful time for young people. It is also the time when mental health concerns typically first appear. 

In our radically polarized world, Black youth:

  • Face additional mental health stressors, such as microaggressions, poverty, and racial profiling
  • Experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and psychological distress than white youth
  • Are often reluctant to seek help due to stigma, cultural mistrust, and a lack of access to culturally responsive care

Today, our campuses can create a safe environment for our students to receive the care and support they need.

1. Build Capacity

Identify and build capacity of the “mental health front line,” the campus counseling center and staff. Reflect the diversity in student identities (e.g., LGBTQ staff, men of color) in counseling center staff. Focus on destigmatizing mental health.

  • Increase mental health literacy on your campus. Provide training and workshops to help educate your campus about the signs of mental health distress, so everyone has the skills to intervene when they notice someone struggling with their mental health.
  • Normalize conversations about mental health. Share the message across campus that the mental health and well-being of everyone from the president to the faculty/staff to the students is a priority.
  • Recognize gender differences in help-seeking behavior that may require different and targeted strategies.

2. Share Resources

Equip students, faculty, and staff with mental health resources available on and off campus. On-campus resources cannot always meet the mental health needs of students, so identify low-cost, off-campus options for students who may find some off-campus options cost prohibitive.

  • Develop a variety of on-campus forums to increase mental health literacy, including podcasts, town halls, and wellness days.
  • Train faculty to support students with mental health challenges using classroom policies, such as assignment flexibility or small group activities that promote connectedness.

Visit our HBCU Student page for more resources

HBCU Leader Stories

Tiffany Sayles

Psychology Instructor, Talladega College
my mental health matters
holistic wellness is a nonnegotiable for me
stop setting ourselves on fire to keep other people warm
pay attention to signs of burnout

Tiffany Sales is a counselor, mother, and teacher - and a powerful advocate for mental health and wellness on and off campus. She prioritizes her mental health, as well as the wellness of her community.

“As a mother, wife, counselor, teacher, and graduate student, I perfected showing up and being there for everyone except myself. Because of this, my mental health suffered. I had to make the choice of seeking the help and support needed to live beyond that moment. Counseling is my lifeline of support and helped me priority myself in order to serve others. Mental health starts when we as students and leaders learn to ‘stop setting ourselves on fire in order to keep other people warm.'”

Dr. Raé Nicole Lundy

Associate Vice President and Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Wiley College
my mental health matters
i don't have the time or money
we want to give you resources
visit campus counseling

“I have a lot of conversations with folks about self-care and the first thing people tell me is, ‘I don’t have the time and I don’t have the money.’ One thing we do want to give you is resources, and to realize that even if finances are a concern, there are some no cost, low-cost accessibility services so that finances don’t have to preclude you from experiencing the well-being you deserve.”

Dr. Raé Nicole Lundy is an example of pursuing education and living your truth. As she pursued her undergrad degree at the HBCU Wiley College, and then advanced degrees and a career in mental health, she learned to address her own pressures to be perfect. She battled fear, anxiety and depression and found her way to mental health through intentional self-care. Today, she continues her journey of self care and shares her learning and professional skills with others as “The Self-Care Doc.”

A tip for today: Take time to just breathe. We can devote time to take care of our needs without apologies for setting healthy boundaries.

Shakira Jarvis, MPH

Director, Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program, Howard University
shakira jarvis
be realistic and action driven

“To be a good community leader and member, I have to model the empathy, self-love and kindness that I work to instill on campus every day. I can't do that if I'm not realistic and action driven when getting what I need to be empowered, restored, and productive in my environment.”

As Director of Howard University’s Interpersonal Violence Prevention Program, Shakira Jarvis shares that healing and empowerment starts with caring for ourselves. Being present to our own needs each day and in each moment ensures that we can be there for our loved ones, for our colleagues and for our community.

 A tip for today: self-care is a gift not just for ourselves, but for our communities.

Upcoming Events

black man at laptop

Racial Healing: Creating Space for wellness Throughout College

For Students Free virtual workshop with Dr. Batsirai Bvunzawabaya Thursday, February 23, 2023, 6-7 PM EST Learn more & Register >

For Students

Reimagining Thriving Communities for Girls and Young Women

Free Virtual Workshop with Tiana Brawley
Thursday, March 16, 2023, 4-5 PM EST
Learn more & Register >

For Faculty & Staff

My Student is Having a Mental Health Crisis. Now What?

Free virtual workshop with Dr. Jan Collins-Eaglin
Thursday, March 23, 2023, 6-7 PM EST

Learn more & Register >

Upcoming Convenings

For Students, Faculty & Staff

UNAPOLOGETICALLY FREE: Student Mental Health Conference

Facilitators: The Steve Fund and the United Negro College Fund
Tuesday, April 11, and Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Get Updates >

For Educators & Leaders

Participate in the Mental Health Community of Action at UNITE 2023

July 17-20, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta Georgia

Learn more & Register >


In the News

The Steve Fund’s Response to Mass Killing


Join the Steve Fund in supporting the mental health and wellness of young people of color.

Our Mission: Promoting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color