Lack of mental health services for students of color

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Claudia Lamberty
Campus News

In a society riddled with conflict inspired by racial consciousness, resources pertaining to mental health and emotional support of students of color often seem out of reach.

The month of July has recently adopted the title of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and The Steve Fund has announced its initiative to provide information and support for students of color.

A not-for-profit organization, The Steve Fund has just launched an application called the Knowledge Center. The free, online resource center aims to connect with students nationwide regardless of region and financial circumstance.
The organization is the first of its kind the in the United States.

Rooted in supporting often-marginalized groups, The Steve Fund strives to provide informative content addressing issues of mental health and emotional well-being.

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Senior Medical Advisor of The Steve Fund, Dr. Annelle Primm, has dedicated her efforts to the growth and success of the organization.

“I have been involved in a number of projects and initiatives that focused on the mental health of people of color,” she said. When considering facets of mental health, Dr. Primm stated, “Ethnicity matters, culture matters, gender matters and age matters.”

Providing developmental and psychiatric guidance for The Steve Fund and their cause, Dr. Primm contends, “All of these identities infer unique challenges or are associated with specific circumstances that an individual would need to contend with.”

The Steve Fund’s national conferences, online services and accessible scholarly research are all platforms of support for students of color.

Dr. Primm and her colleagues at the Steve Fund acknowledge how difficult the double identity of a student and a person of color can be.

The Steve Fund’s cause primarily rests in under-representation across college campuses. Under-represented racial presences on campuses have historically resulted in conflicts relating to racial discrimination, social stigma and micro-aggressions.

“There have been some initiatives focused on the mental health of people of color. But professionals haven’t always thought it was necessary or important to take it a step further –drilling down to a specific age segment of that population,” Dr. Primm stated.

She claims that students may also often experience a seemingly uncomfortable transition from their respective hometown to campus environments.

The Steve Fund also finds that such racially driven circumstances have the capacity to effect students emotionally and psychologically.

“With social media,” she said, “and with the significant publicity associated with the challenges of young people of color, it is important for us to pay attention their mental and emotional well-being.”

If mental health needs are unmet, students can potentially derail their academic pursuits and it has the capacity to lead to other problems.

As cases of depression and anxiety permeate college campuses, The Steve Fund has reported that students of color are more likely to suffer than non-Hispanic white students.

Nonetheless, students of color are less likely to reach out for help when experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Concerned or confused about their emotional and mental state, students are often ambivalent to seek help or unaware of available resources.

The Knowledge Center provides information not only for students of color, but content readily available to peers, mentors and counselors as well. The organization encourages peers and adult figures to apply its accessible content to students seeking or in need of support.

When asked about psychological and emotional support currently available for this segment of the student population, Dr. Primm said, “In the ecosystem of college and universities a lot more can be done to support the mental health of people of color.”

Professionals like Dr.Primm highly recommend parents and mentors remind students it is okay and appropriate to talk about mental health issues.

Some individuals are often under the impression issues of mental illness and mental health “should remain in the shadows and be kept quiet.”

The Knowledge Center, the Steve Fund’s online research center, provides scholarly content to all visitors. Interviews with professors and mental health professionals, lectures, academic research and scholarly articles are available to educate all on issues of mental health.

“The Steve Fund is a place for people to figure out what they can do to help, whatever their role might be.”
The available content derives from mental health conferences held at esteemed universities such as Harvard, University of Michigan, Stanford and Yale.

The Knowledge Center hopes to engage with audiences not only currently enrolled in higher education, but also individuals entering and exiting their college careers.

To help guarantee health and future success, this initiative strives to prevent the weakening of social networks, and disengagement from educational and career interests.

Easy to navigate and comprehend, the Knowledge Center has potential to become a vital resource for struggling students and individuals seeking to provide support.

Those involved at The Steve Fund are invested in removing the stigma, the secrecy and the shame that has previously surrounded discussion of mental health and mental illness.

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