United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and mental health organization the Steve Fund, will be partnering for two years to improve student mental health, focusing on historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs).
“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,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. “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.”
This new partnership will work to bolster cultures of mental health and emotional wellbeing at up to 40 HBCUs and PBIs, as students of color deal with stress, racialized trauma, and mental health challenges amid an ongoing global pandemic and the U.S.’s racial reckoning.
“Black students face very real mental health stressors and challenges today that must be addressed,” said 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 partners will use The Healthy Minds Study (HMS) to help each school look at students’ mental health, service use, and attitudes about mental wellness. They’ll be working with the Healthy Minds Network to better understand dynamics of mental health on Black school campuses.
The two will also host a mental health track at UNITE 2022: UNCF Summit on Black Higher Education taking place in Atlanta through Thursday. On Tuesday, Dr. Jamal Watson moderated a student panel at the convening.
A partnership between the two organizations began in 2021 with a HBCU mental health survey – it received responses from 47 HBCUs – that revealed that almost 70% of HBCU students expressed wanting to be informed of emotional wellbeing resources.