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Racial Disparities Mar College Students Access to Mental Health Treatment


A recent study conducted by Boston University found disparities in mental health treatment access for students along racial and ethnic lines.

Published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study led by the university’s School of Public Health researchers found that white students were more likely than African American, Asian and Latinx students to receive treatment for mental health problems in the past year.

In the last few decades, campuses have seen an overall increase in mental health problems experienced by students with anxiety and depression being the top two mental health concerns across all sectors.

The study used data from 43,375 undergraduate and graduate students who were surveyed for the Healthy Minds Study from 2012 to 2015. Nearly 40 percent among African American students, 47 percent of Asian/Asian Americans, 48 percent white and 53 percent among Arab/Arab American students met the criteria for a mental health problem.

Nearly half of the white students received treatment as compared to 25 percent of the African American and Asian students.

“There is enormous unmet need for mental health services in college student populations writ large, and students of color represent a disparities population based on even greater unmet mental health needs relative to white students,” said Sarah Lipson lead author of the study

“Understanding and addressing the mental health needs of racially diverse students is essential to supporting their success and creating equity in other dimensions, including persistence and retention,” Lipson added.

Among the different racial groups, African American students reported holding the least stigma about mental health at 6 percent followed by 23 percent of Asian/Asian American students and 35 percent of Asian international students.

A recent report by META revealed that half of the students reported stigma as a barrier to accessing mental health services and support on campus. Busy schedules, lack of information and hours of service were other mentioned reasons acting as barriers to accessing mental health care options on campus.

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