Students at HBCUs may be at more risk for suicides and other mental illnesses due to the cultural biases and low socioeconomic status that minority students can often face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate for Black Americans from ages 20 to 24 had the highest rates of suicide in the Black population, averaging 18.18 per 100,000 people. As a result, student mental health is becoming increasingly important at HBCUs nationwide. Below are some strategies that HBCUs are using in order to combat mental illness.
1.) North Carolina Central University
The Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) at North Carolina Central University recognize that their students may never visit the health center on their own, and therefore, counselors work closely with greek organizations and visit dormitories as a way to promote counseling information.
Dr. Angela Lee, a former counselor at North Carolina Central University advocates that “Counseling departments can’t take it on all by themselves. Issues like suicide, domestic violence and rape come up on different levels. Campus police, counselors, resident assistants and the dean of students all need to be on the same page and send the same messages.”
2.) Southern University and A&M College
Cicely Evans, a licensed professional counselor at Southern University and A&M College, points out that many students “are afraid of the stigma attached to mental health treatment. Students do not want to be labeled as crazy or weak.”
The counseling center attempts to debunk the negative stigma attached to mental health by putting on free workshops and presentations that deal with stress management, identifying indicators of a suicidal student, gender and communication issues, and many more!
3.) Hampton University (HU)
Due to a tragic suicide by a Hampton University student last March, the university has received grants for suicide prevention initiatives. Hampton provides training on suicide prevention, offers direct suicide intervention conversations with students, and sponsors campus-wide suicide prevention activities such as “Fundamental Suicide Concepts,” “Let’s Talk About It,” “Response and Referral,” and even a campus march. Hampton hopes to raise awareness on suicide and mental health and hopes to assist their community to be able to talk about suicide and debunk many of the stigmas behind getting counseling for emotional and mental distress.
4.) Morgan State University
The Counseling Center Services at this HBCU created a video in order to demonstrate how their counseling services support students with emotional, social, and career development stress, among other issues. Click below to watch the video!
5.) South Carolina State University (SCSU)
The mission of this HBCU is to provide high-quality mental healthcare for their students throughout their time at SCSU by providing two peer mentoring programs: W.A.T.C.H.D.O.G and Rites of Passage.
The W.A.T.C.H.D.O.G. (Wellness And Teaching Counseling Helpers Daily On Guard) Peer Mentoring group consists of upperclassmen providing support and mentorship to Rites of Passage students by passing on the skills and knowledge they have gained throughout their college career. Mentorship often takes place through by participation in community service and campus involvement.
The “Rites of Passage” group was created in effort to provide support for first year SCSU students as they enter and adjust to college. Students attend sessions that focus on time management, self-esteem, academic milestones, and many other dilemmas which they may face during their first year.