UNCF Releases Call to Action for Enhanced Mental Health Support at HBCUs

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Roy Betts UNCF Communications 240.703.3384 roy.betts@uncf.org

Previews Groundbreaking Mental Health Report to be Released in Fall 2024

Today, UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and its Institute For Capacity Building announced the publication of “From Awareness to Action: The Imperative for Enhanced Mental Health Support at HBCUs.”

Released during Mental Health Awareness Month, the report shares key insights into the state of mental health on Black college campuses and previews a groundbreaking research report on mental health perceptions and attitudes at Black colleges and universities, including historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and predominantly Black institutions (PBIs). Conducted in partnership with the Healthy Minds Study, the subsequent report will be released in Fall 2024.

“HBCUs have been shelters in a storm, creating spaces for belonging, vulnerability and well-being for their students during one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of higher education,” said Julian Thompson, senior director, strategy development, UNCF. “We’re proud to shine a light on the great work HBCUs are doing to support the mental and emotional well-being of their students, while also calling for more robust resources, supports and systems that will enable these institutions to fulfill their student-centered missions.”

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic four years ago, UNCF partnered with HBCU leaders and national mental health organizations, including The Steve Fund and Active Minds, to respond proactively to mental health needs on HBCU and PBI campuses, facilitating a range of mental health conferences, webinars, symposia and awareness campaigns while engaging thousands of Black college students, faculty and administrators in research on a range of mental health topics. Using recent efforts as a foundation, the report highlights key insights for funders, partners and advocates seeking to improve mental health at Black college and universities.

“From Awareness to Action is an impactful document, outlining the United Negro College Fund’s comprehensive suite of mental health initiatives which signal a major step forward in expanding mental health resources and supports for students at Black Colleges,” said David McGhee, chief executive officer, The Steve Fund. “The Steve Fund is pleased to be a partner of the United Negro College Fund to augment its efforts to center mental health as a high priority for HBCU and PBI students.”

 The report released today highlights five key insights based on UNCF’s facilitation of mental health research, planning and programming on Black college campuses:

  1. HBCUs are not immune from the mental health issues impacting the rest of higher education.
  2. Rooted in longstanding traditions of holistic support, HBCUs are actively pursuing student-centered solutions to address mental health needs.
  3. Building culturally responsive, safe spaces makes a difference when connecting HBCU stakeholders to mental health resources.
  4. HBCUs are leading innovative practices that can shape higher education’s response to the mental health crisis.
  5. The next era of mental health activation on Black college campuses is on the horizon.

“At Active Minds, we understand Black students’ unique challenges on HBCU campuses. The pressure to succeed, combined with experiences of discrimination and historical trauma, can create a significant burden on mental health,” said Alison Malmon, executive director, Active Minds. “That’s why we’re proud to partner with UNCF. Together, we’re working to develop culturally responsive resources and foster open conversations about mental well-being. Our shared goal is to equip young Black adults to lead the charge for mental health change on their campuses, preparing them to prioritize their mental health and reach their full potential.”

UNCF will feature the findings of this report during the UNITE 2024: UNCF Summit for Black Higher Education conference, held July 28 – Aug.1, 2024, in Atlanta, and conduct focus groups on the future of mental health at HBCUs.  Later this year, UNCF will release a first-of-its-kind report in partnership with the Healthy Minds Study on the mental health perceptions and attitudes of students on nineteen (19) Black college and university campuses.

Using the nation’s most comprehensive student mental health instrument as a foundation, UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute partnered with Healthy Minds Study and The Steve Fund to create the Healthy Minds Study’s first module dedicated to students attending HBCUs and other Black colleges and universities, enabling an unprecedented opportunity to understand the mental health needs of this unique student population.

“The efforts of Black colleges and universities to help their institutions respond to the pandemic has been truly inspiring, however there’s still work to do,” said Victoria Smith, Esq., strategy analyst, UNCF Institute for Capacity Building. “We look forward to the upcoming report featuring unprecedented insights gathered from our institutions and hope to inspire a new set of actions to further the mental well-being of students, faculty and administrators on HBCU campuses.”

UNCF and Healthy Minds Study plan to release their subsequent report in the fall. For more information and resources to support mental health on Black college campuses, visit www.unapologetically-free.org.


About UNCF 

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 15% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 19% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 50,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on X (formerly Twitter) at @UNCF