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Why Black Kids Are Not Getting Help With Mental Issues in College

By: Isabella Carson

Mental health issues plague millions of people in this country. Unfortunately there are many who cannot get the help that they need with these issues. Some of the people who are hit the hardest are minorities. A recent study by the Jed Foundation, a foundation that deals with suicide prevention, found that black and Hispanic college students who suffer from mental illness are less likely to go looking for the help that they so desperately need. The foundation wants to try and figure out why this is the case. Colleges have been working to end racism at schools but it still exists. Perhaps these minority students feel that they are not going to get the help even if they ask for it so why bother in the first place.

During recent protests at colleges and universities all over the country the cries for more mental health help for minority students haven’t been heard. A Harris Poll study that was conducted in the 2014-2015 school year showed that black and Hispanic students were more likely to feel overwhelmed when they were in their first years of college than white students. These overwhelming feelings can often lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. When there is no help available, or when the students don’t seek out help, these conditions can escalate to a dangerous level.

The medical director of the Jed Foundation, Michael Switz, states that students may not be seeking help because they don’t know that they have it available to them or do not know how to access it. There are more minority students in college than ever before and many come from disadvantaged backgrounds where there aren’t many resources available. They may feel lost and not know where to begin looking for help. This can be overwhelming and may add to the stress that they are already feeling.

One of the problems with mental healthcare on campuses that minority students face is that if they have a white counselor, the sessions are often unproductive. As someone who is not of the same race it may be harder for the counselor to truly comprehend the struggles that the student is going through. They cannot fully understand how the student is feeling as they have not had to deal with the same issues. This can lead to frustration for the students.

There is a call to action for colleges to take a look at their mental health services and see where there are areas that may need improvement. Even non-minority students are seeking more help than ever so it is an issue that is pressing.

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