2016 News

Event focuses on mental health of college students of color

More than 200 mental health practitioners, scholars, university administrators, parents, students and community leaders gathered for the conference “Young, Gifted & @Risk: Promoting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color” on November 11 at the Brown School of Social Work.

Together they examined the mental health challenges facing college students of color and exchanged ideas and strategies. Speakers included experts on education, psychiatry, psychology, diversity studies and youth and community development. In addition, conference participants divided into break-out groups to brainstorm potential solutions to challenges facing students.

The event was the annual national conference of the nonprofit The Steve Fund, with the Brown School and Washington University in St. Louis as co-sponsors. The Center for Social Development (CSD) provided support, along with BJC HealthCare, the Missouri Foundation for Health, the Race and Opportunity Lab, and Washington University School of Medicine.

The three panels focused on these topics:

  • “Marginality, belonging, and success: The university experience and the mental health of students and emerging adults of color;”
  • “How culture, mindset, and identity shape and affect mental health among young adults;”
  • “Promising strategies for mental health on campus and beyond for young people of color.”

The break-out groups focused on students; family; faculty, teaching assistants and graduate students; veterans; and administration/counseling staff. The group on faculty, teaching assistants and graduate students discussed such issues as isolation and a lack of diversity training among universities’ faculty members, for example, while the veterans group focused on the mental health needs and other challenges young veterans face as they reenter civilian life and pursue a college education.

“The conference means a lot, being a student of color, especially because it focuses on the mental health needs, and I think that sometimes that goes unnoticed,” said Sara Anderson, an MSW student at the Brown School. “It’s really cool to see professionals in this field give resources, skills, next steps, or even just bring a level of awareness to certain issues and topics.”

To see photos from the conference, please click here. Photos are free to download and must be attributed to the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis.