I don’t know about you, but the COVID-19 pandemic, increased racial tension, and the heated political climate in this country have taken a serious toll on my mental health. But these issues have been particularly challenging for students of color on college campuses across the country. And now, the United Negro College Fund wants to do something about it.
In 2021, students from 47 HBCUs participated in a mental health survey, which found that almost 70 percent of students wanted more information on resources and events related to emotional well-being.
On June 12, the UNCF and the Steve Fund announced a two-year multi-layered partnership designed to support the mental health and well-being of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions. This initiative, according to the UNCF’s President, is an investment in student’s success on campus and beyond. And it supports the organization’s mission of moving African American students “to and through college.”
“Today more than ever, we are keenly aware that student success is linked to the ability of institutions to respond to the mental health status of their students,” says Dr. Michael Lomax, President & CEO of UNCF in a press release shared with The Root. “Our students have shown tremendous resilience in the face of an unprecedented and unpredictable time. Together with the Steve Fund, we are ready to place the mental health of Black students, and Black colleges and universities at the center of an initiative focused on their student success and excellence.”
The Steve Fund is one of the “leading organizations focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color” in the country. Their new partnership with the UNCF is another means of promoting awareness and communication around an issue that is not often discussed in our communities. “Black students face very real mental health stressors and challenges today that must be addressed,” explains Dr. Tia Dole, Executive Director of the Steve Fund. “This unique collaboration with UNCF will focus attention on mental health on campus and foster communities of action that break down stigma and promote mental health information, tools, and resources on HBCU campuses — and serve as foundational work in the Steve Fund’s growing HBCU portfolio.”
The two-year UNCF - Steve Fund partnership will include a variety of initiatives designed to promote mental health and wellness on HBCU campuses, including hiring a postdoctoral fellow who is an HBCU or PBI graduate, who will focus explicitly on the initiative, a joint Steve Fund - UNCF conference for students focused on their mental health and wellness needs and responsive programming for UNCF HBCUs that will address the mental health needs of the student body.
“While the current mental health landscape for young people of color is very challenging,” said Dr. Tia Dole. “we believe this new partnership and the lines of actions we’ll pursue, will give us a path to reach and support young people. And that gives us a lot of hope.”