Less than half of African-American students rated their first semester experience as good or excellent, compared to 62 percent of white students. And 41 percent of African-American students reported thoughts of transferring, compared with 23 percent of white students.
Alfiee Breland-Noble, an associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University who is on staff with the Steve Fund, one of the organizations that conducted the study, said already existing unrelated stigmas could dissuade someone from seeking care.
“If you’re already dealing with those kinds of stressors, racial stressors in particular, then you don’t want to layer on top of that this idea of being ‘crazy,’” she said.
Enrique Neblett, an associate professor of psychology at UNC who studies racism-related health in minority youth, said a lack of diversity in health centers also contributes to minority students’ reluctance in seeking care.
“Sometimes people feel like the services that they receive and the people that they’re going to get help from may not understand their situation or the challenges that they face,” Neblett said.
Dr. Victor Schwartz, the medical director of the JED Foundation, which also helped conduct the survey, said schools should focus on having staff that are very well-versed in communicating with different constituencies on campus.
“The more we can get different groups of students and school administrators, counselors and clinicians speaking to each other, the greater the understanding and sensitivity they’ll have for each other’s needs and limitations,” Schwartz said.
Dr. Allen O’Barr, director of Counseling and Psychology Services at UNC, said he recognizes there may be a perceived bias in predominantly white institutions, and CAPS is working to increase diversity in its staff.