A community of action makes mental health and wellness a priority for each of its members. It identifies mental health concerns on campus and nurtures honest, open conversations about what change means. It hears and validates each person’s voice. It reduces stigma, recognizes the impact of societal experiences, and reduces barriers to seeking care. It encourages help seeking. 

To become such a community, change must take place in the classroom, on the field, in sororities and fraternities, and in the administration. What actions will you take?

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

Inundate students, faculty, and staff with mental health resources available on and off campus. On-campus resources cannot always meet the clinical needs of students, so explore 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.” theselfcaredoc.com

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
selfcare

“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: selfcare is a gift not just for ourselves, but for our communities.

Upcoming Event

black man at laptop

UNITE 2022: UNCF Summit on Black Higher Education

June 12-16, 2022

Join the Steve Fund as we present a mental health track of sessions at UNITE 2022. Join thought leaders from higher education, HBCU/PBI leaders, educators, researchers, advocates, students and practitioners- to learn, share ideas, build connections, and transform institutions.

Upcoming Webinars

Celebrating Black young women and girls as bosses and creatives: A community conversation on entrepreneurship and wellness

In the News

The Steve Fund’s Response to Mass Killing

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