Advocating for mental health equity
Reflections on the multi-layered pandemic experiences of Black college students
The hydra of racism was ever-present in 2020. Historical inequities, which have long plagued major pillars of our society such as health, justice, and education, were exacerbated by COVID-19—which, when conjoined with the manifestations of institutionalized white supremacy and colonialism, served to disproportionately affect Black lives. However, there remains deeper consideration of the combined impact these intersecting, nationwide emergencies of COVID-19 and racial injustice have on Black college student mental health. This is particularly concerning given that college students are a vulnerable population for experiencing increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Black college students deserve to express an authentic sense of self in route to actualizing their success, and the intentional consideration of their mental health and well-being is vital to achieving this. Our reflection synthesizes the interrelation of these national topics to further contextualize the importance of valuing the psychological and emotional dimensions of Black college students' lived experiences as we aim towards broader progress regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. We discuss implications for institutional leadership, such as considerations for improving mental health service utilization and the use of interdisciplinary research avenues tying together tenets of education and mindfulness approaches.
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