5 ways IU Southeast can support students of color and their mental health


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There is a small percentage of students of color on campus at IU Southeast and the university still lacks culturally diverse mental health professionals within the resources that are provided to them on campus. IUS has the ability to create a welcoming environment for students of color on campus amidst the COVID pandemic.

By doing that, it will allow the students of color on campus to know that IUS cares about them and will be able to support them through a difficult time. Students of color on campus have different mental health needs and it is important to ensure that there are resources available to them for their specific needs. 

Here are five ways that IUS could better support the mental health of students of color on campus. 

1. Hiring culturally competent and diverse professionals.

One way that IU Southeast could support students of color on campus is by hiring more culturally diverse professionals.

In an interview, one IUS student said that she wished the resources on campus were specific to her needs and that she could meet more people that look like her. Hiring more culturally diverse professionals would allow students of color to connect with the professional. It could also allow students of color to eventually connect with other students of color on campus as well.

Another IUS student stated that she “didn’t feel comfortable enough” taking advantage of the free services offered for students on campus. She said that she figured out that counselors in the program were not diverse enough and that many were students as well who were working on their degree programs and gaining valuable experience.

Students of color need a counselor to be able to relate in order to talk about and understand the unique challenges the students face. By hiring culturally diverse mental health professionals, students of color would be able to feel a sense of belonging on campus.

2. Hosting engaging events for students to connect.

College students are struggling to get regular access to resources on campus due to the pandemic forcing classes to be online. Students of color specifically stated that they have had “cabin fever” and “anxiety” due to the remote learning and social distancing put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic. That alone is a lot on anybody’s mental health, especially if that person is not used to isolating themselves. Aside from the pandemic causing so much disorder, students of color are still fighting against systemic racism and violence toward people of color. In addition to feeling isolated, students of color are also worried about going outside and being harassed by police officers. 

“With COVID-19 going around, school has been a lot harder for me because of little to no human interaction,” said a third IUS student.

Two other IUS students also said that they wished their university did more in support of the Black Lives Matter movement because right now they do not feel any sense of inclusion. One sophomore at IUS said that she would love to be a part of a group or an event where students of color can connect. This would be a great way for students of color to network and break out of the isolation that they have been faced with during the pandemic. By planning events, the university could create a space for students of color to make friendships, connect with those who understand their experiences and even potentially secure job opportunities through networking.

3. Bringing awareness to the mental health of students of color.

This past summer, college students of color were faced with a variety of challenges. These challenges included classes being switched online, needing to relocate back to their homes, losing their jobs, dealing with the trauma related to people of color being killed for no valid reason, protests and many more things. Students of color suffered a lot during the summer and were hardly acknowledged on campus which left them to struggle in silence. 

“I was going through so much last semester,” said an IUS junior. “I felt so alone and had no one to turn to.”

This statement rings true for so many other students of color who suffered in silence not knowing which way to turn. IUS has the ability to bring awareness to the students of color who have gone unnoticed. By creating awareness, IUS will be able to show students of color that the campus sees them and cares about their well-being.

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4. Collaborating with other universities and student led organizations.

IUS could collaborate with other universities and student organizations to help them bring awareness to the mental health of students of color. Partnering with other universities could help them reach more students and get creative with how they develop strategies to be more effective, supportive and appealing to students of color. 

“Partnering with other schools and student-led organizations could allow us to make connections with students and really put those plans into action,” said a senior at IUS. 

Being involved with student organizations gives the university direct contact with students of color and could result in building up relationships.

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5. Creating a program that is designed to promote the overall well-being of students on campus.

This past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for many college students. 

“I went through a lot when the pandemic first started,” said a senior at IUS. “I started to pick up unhealthy eating habits and I really didn’t know how to help myself out of that bad habit I created.” 

An alumna from IUS also mentioned how her friend is going through something and she can notice something was really bothering her, but she just didn’t know how or where to start. 

“There should be a program designed to help others find resources when dealing with mental health other than counseling,” she said.

The alumna believes there should also be programs or resources for people that want to know how to help someone or learn how to talk to someone dealing with some type of mental health need.

Creating a program that is designed to promote the overall well-being of students on campus will benefit students in so many ways. The program could consist of IUS professionals and students coming together to provide resources to students of color that may not be provided to them on campus. The program would allow students of color to walk in and speak with someone to help with any specific needs that individual has. 

Remember – not all students of color have the exact same mental health needs. That is why it is so important to provide a variety of mental health-related resources and programs on the IUS campus.