The Steve Fund and JED Launch Equity in Mental Health Framework to Support College Students of Color

The Jed Foundation (JED), a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults, and The Steve Fund, a nonprofit created to address the mental health needs of young people of color, today announced the Equity in Mental Health Framework (EMH Framework) to help colleges and universities support and enhance the mental health of students of color.

Research indicates that students of color at American colleges and universities are almost twice as likely not to seek care when they feel depressed or anxious compared to white students. Additionally, a recent online Harris Poll of 1,000 college students conducted by JED and the Steve Fund (with equal samples of African American, Latinx, white and Asian American students) found that students of color (in comparison to white students) are significantly less likely to describe their campus as inclusive (28% to 45%) and more likely to indicate that they often feel isolated on campus (46% to 30%). These statistics indicate a need for a more tailored approach to protecting the mental health of students of color.

The EMH Framework provides academic institutions with a set of ten actionable recommendations and key implementation strategies to help strengthen their activities and programs to address the mental health disparities facing students of color such as mentioned above.  With expert input from the College Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital, the EMH Framework was developed using the national Harris Poll of 1,000 college students, a scientific literature review, a national convening of higher education leaders, and an electronic survey of higher education administrators.

“The Equity in Mental Health Framework fills an urgent gap at colleges and universities, and across our society” said Evan Rose, President of the Steve Fund. “Inequity in mental health is a dire national problem which impedes well-being of communities of color.  Our young people face daunting challenges as they transition to adulthood, including those fortunate enough to pursue higher education. These expert recommendations build understanding of the challenges while equipping colleges and universities to better address our students’ needs. This effort is critical to the mental health, college completion, and life chances of the nation’s most rapidly growing demographic and the population which drives our work—young people of color.”

The investigative efforts behind the EMH Framework included a comprehensive examination of studies on the unique mental health challenges students of color face and a number of current interventions and programs aiming to meet their needs.

“We created the Equity in Mental Health Framework to provide colleges and universities across the country with accessible information, ideas and examples to inform and strengthen their mental health supports and programs for students of color,” said John MacPhee, JED Executive Director. “Our goal is to stimulate discussion and new research while helping more schools prioritize these efforts in order to ensure mental health equity for our nation’s college students.”

Videos on the EMH Framework site feature supportive statements by higher education leaders from Morehouse College, the University System of Maryland and Trinity Washington University.

“I favor increasing the level of support available to students of color at our national college and university campuses,” says John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University “This is a very special moment and we need to seize the opportunities present here to provide the best communities for all of our students.  I think every college and university president must understand how urgent it is to tend to these dynamics.”

Visit equityinmentalhealth.org to access the EMH Framework and other valuable resources.

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