Why Diverse Mental Health Care is a Necessity For Students of Color
It's no secret that many college students are struggling with undiagnosed or untreated conditions and refusing help-seeking behaviours. The result is a generation of young adults who may never fully recover from their mental health issues and lead healthier lives as they grow into adulthood.
The United States is becoming increasingly diverse, and with this change comes a need for more diverse representation in all aspects of society. This includes college campuses and universities, which are now made up of students from various ethnic minority backgrounds. While this is certainly a positive change, it also highlights the need for universities to provide more diverse mental health care services.
Mental health care on college campuses must be attentive to the unique needs of students from diverse backgrounds. Minority students often face unique challenges that can impact their mental health. They may deal with racial discrimination or microaggressions on a daily basis. Additionally, many may feel isolated from the majority population on campus. These experiences can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and even PTSD.
Colleges must do everything in their power to ensure that students have access to the mental health care they need.
Mental health issues among college students are already alarmingly common and are often exacerbated by the stress of adjusting to college life. For students of colour, there are issues and perspectives that are often felt different from others, feeling unseen and feeling misunderstood. In addition, there is also an additional layer of stress that comes from feeling the pressure to represent their entire race or ethnicity.
The lack of diversity in college counselling offices, and in the wider realm of mental healthcare, has been found to negatively impact students from marginalized backgrounds. A 2019 survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed an alarming discrepancy regarding the ethnicities of mental health providers: about 83% of therapists are white, followed by the second largest group at 7% are Hispanic, 4% are Asian, and only 3% are Black.
Over 80% of students in the California region report financial struggles, from housing, college costs, lack of well-paying jobs, and cost of access to available healthcare. The financial stress of limited finances can not only have a toll on one’s academic performance but can take a severe toll on one’s mental health. Many students cannot afford quality mental health care, let alone resources that are tailored to their needs. This leaves students more vulnerable than ever.
It is essential that mental health care providers on college campuses are aware of the unique needs of students, especially those from diverse backgrounds. They must be culturally competent and able to provide services that are tailored to each individual student's needs. Only then can we hope to address the mental health crisis on college campuses in a manner that meets the needs of students from different backgrounds.
The wide range of mental health concerns that students face are often linked to their daily lives, are real, and can have significant and irreversible consequences such as depression, anxiety eating disorders, mood disturbances and the struggle to fit in.
It is vital that colleges provide mental health care services that are culturally competent and able to meet the needs of all students. This includes having a staff that is diverse and trained in working with individuals from different backgrounds. Additionally, colleges should offer specific programs and services that cater to the needs of minority students. Doing so can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all students.
At Mind-Easy, we work to support collegiate-vertical mental health systems to have a variety of mental health resources for students across all verticals to better their well-being on whatever mental health journey they are on.