The past year has brought both mental health and racial justice to the forefront for many college leaders. A November 2020 survey of college presidents from the American Council on Education found that more respondents rated the mental health of students as a pressing issue than said the same about spring enrollment numbers.
In 2017, the JED Foundation and the Steve Fund released recommendations for campuses to better address the mental health of students of color in a document called the Equity in Mental Health Framework. Through a literature review and surveys, researchers found that Black students were more likely than their white peers to report feeling overwhelmed most or all of the time. First-year Black students were more likely than their white counterparts to say they tend to keep their feelings about the challenges of college to themselves. The 10 recommendations to address the unique experiences of students of color included creating top-level staff positions to support their well-being, engaging students to provide feedback on programs and sharing information between and within institutions.
Now the two organizations have completed a pilot program carrying out those recommendations over two years at 18 colleges and universities across the country.