Mental Health And Its Effects On African-American Students

Mental health awareness has become a growing concern across the nation, in homes and especially on college campuses. With the increasing awareness, professionals and the average layperson seek to find the reasons why mental illness has become a pressing public health issue over the past couple of decades and how to address each student’s unique situation. In my opinion, issues concerning the mental health and treatment of college students are pretty obvious. However, it can become more complex than anticipated when trying to understand the causes and preventative measures around mental health amongst students, especially those from urban communities.

Photo by: @Dre0316

Social stigmas, lack of government funding, generational poverty, and plain-old racism play a huge role when discussing how to approach mental health when the affected person is black. From sociologist W.E.B Dubois’s theory of Double Consciousness inherently acknowledging race/financial related anxiety, depression, and paranoia, to Dr. Joy DeGruy’s Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome contributing centuries of unaddressed oppression as some type imprint pre-exposing black people to the effects of generational trauma via genetics.

Photo by: Vic-tor

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, “...studies have found a higher prevalence of depression and anxiety among students of color, as well as higher levels of functional impairments relative to white students.” As it is reported that African American students suffer from mental illness at higher rates than their peers, the journal also reports that “African-Americans have 73% lower odds of being diagnosed.” Many people make a habit of underestimating the importance of racial disparities in the treatment and diagnoses of mental illnesses. Further failure to acknowledge the complexity of how the Black societal experience holds a major key in how we address mental health will only allow space for this public health crisis to expand.