It is with great excitement that I’m writing you today to let you know that there exists now, for the first time, a framework of expert recommendations for colleges and universities to support and enhance the mental health of students of color. We call it the “Equity in Mental Health Framework” (EMHF). The Steve Fund was instrumental in developing this framework over the course of more than two years, together with our partner the Jed Foundation.
I believe it is our most important endeavor to date, and here is why:
The EMHF provides academic institutions for the first time with a clear set of strategies to strengthen their activities and programs for the mental health benefit of students of color. We have built the recommendations upon a solid foundation including a national Harris Poll of 1,000 racially diverse college students, a scientific literature review, a national convening of higher education leaders, and a national survey of higher education administrators co-led by the College Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital.
The framework fills an urgent gap at colleges and universities. Of the over 20 million students enrolled in American colleges and universities, four out of ten self-identify as a student of color. While all college students face a variety of challenges including social, emotional, financial, and academic pressures, students of color often experience additional sources of psychological distress compared to their white peers. Discrimination, imposterism, stigma, cultural mistrust, and feelings of isolation are among the factors that can adversely impact the mental and emotional well-being of students of color.
When we started the Steve Fund in 2014, we knew that colleges and universities had a vital role to play in filling urgent gaps to better support the mental health of young people of color in our society and on our nation’s campuses. We did not suspect, however, that the situation would become even more dire as developments have unfolded over the recent year. Think of Charlottesville. Think of the anxiety of Dreamers who have to worry about deportation.
The reality is: Students of color face unique challenges. With the Equity in Mental Health Framework, Colleges and universities now have a new, powerful tool to address this issue, thanks to the actionable recommendations and implementation strategies that are part of the framework. It is an exciting time for the Steve Fund as we release this important work now with our partner JED and look to build new tools to help protect the mental health of students of color.
We encourage you to visit www.equityinmentalhealth.org to learn more and download the framework. And thank you for your continued interest in and support of the Steve Fund.
President of the Board
The Steve Fund
P.S.: Click here to read the joint official news release by the Steve Fund and the Jed Foundation about the launch of the Equity in Mental Health Framework.