Study Warns of a Mental Health Crisis for African American College Students

A new study by researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Illinois at Chicago warns that Black students who are enrolled at selective predominantly White educational institutions face a serious mental health challenge.

McGee_EbonyEbony McGee, an assistant professor at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and a co-author of the study, states that “weathering the cumulative effects of living in a society characterized by White dominance and privilege produces a kind of physical and mental wear-and-tear that contributes to a host of psychological and physical ailments.”

Dr. McGee adds that “we have witnessed Black students work themselves to the point of extreme illness in attempting to escape the constant threat of perceived intellectual inferiority. We have documented alarming occurrences of anxiety, stress, depression and thoughts of suicide, as well as a host of physical ailments like hair loss, diabetes and heart disease.”

David StovallCo-author David Stovall, associate professor of African American studies and educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says that “those who are struggling with the multiple burdens associated with being a Black student must be protected against daily discrimination.”

The authors conclude that “the process of healing from racial battle fatigue and institutional racism requires significant internal commitment and external support. Black college students are brilliant, talented, and creative, and they dream as big as other students. Pursuing higher education should not make them sick.”

The article, “Reimagining Critical Race Theory in Education: Mental Health, Healing and the Pathway to Liberatory Praxis,” was published in the journal Educational Theory. It may be accessed here.

Related Articles

6 COMMENTS

  1. The more things change the more . . .!

    My doctoral dissertation in 1979 entitled: “Perceived Stress of Black Medical Students At Public and Private U.S. Medical Schools” reported on similar topics. Dr. McGee’s statement
    ” “we have witnessed Black students work themselves to the point of extreme illness in attempting to escape the constant threat of perceived intellectual inferiority” mirrors my findings. Again, the more things change the more . . .! Robert Lee, PhD

  2. I truly do not believe this is a New notion, it simply is now being researched. Thank you for doing this.
    The results will be applicable to All who attend PWIs.

  3. According to the Mismatch book, half of black undergrads rank in the bottom 20 percent with respect to grades.

    If that’s going to be a mental health issue for you, then don’t go to a college where the vast majority of other students have better incoming credentials than you do.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Report Established by State Senator Art Haywood Uncovers Racism in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education

"Ultimately, Pennsylvania's leaders and institutions should respect the dignity of all students," says Senator Art Haywood. "The work to ensure that dignity is intact for Pennsylvania's Students of Color continues with this report in hopes that one day the work will no longer be required."

Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman Appointed President of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine

"I appreciate the support I have received from my faculty and trainee colleagues here at UC San Diego along with colleagues from around the world," says Dr. Gyamfi-Bannerman. "Together we will work to advance our field and our reach, improving patient outcomes and eliminating health disparities."

Rate of Black Homeownership in America Remains Virtually Unchanged Since 2012

The National Association of Realtors has found that although homeownership rates in American are steadily increasing, the rate of Black homeownership has experienced significantly less growth than White, Asian, and Hispanic homeownership since 2012.

Safiya George Named President of the University of the Virgin Islands

“As a servant leader, I am confident I will be an effective President for the University of the Virgin Islands and will remain humble and grounded with a sincere desire to improve outcomes and the lives of students, faculty, staff, and the community," says Safiya George, who will assume the role of president of the University of the Virgin Islands this summer.

Featured Jobs