Black students with mental health issues ‘being let down’

African Caribbean undergraduates experiencing mental health problems have some of the highest drop-out rates, data shows

MENTAL HEALTH: Several suggestions have been made on how to better support black students with mental health conditions

UNIVERSITY REGULATORS have warned that the university system is failing black students who are living with mental health problems.

The Office for Students (OfS), said that African Caribbean undergraduates experiencing mental health problems have some of the highest drop-out rates among students across UK universities, according to recently published data.

The regulator revealed that 77 per cent of black students with mental health problems continue their degrees after their first year, compared to 85 per cent of students of other ethnicities with mental health problems.

BARRIER

The OfS figures also show this group is significantly less likely to get a graduate-level job. Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, praised the work done by universities to support students’ well-being and address issues, but said that the issue of mental health was one that provided a “barrier to the success” to this group of students.

The report said: “Universities and colleges need to pay heed to the different experiences of students with mental health conditions and put in place tailored support to close these gaps.

APPROACHES

Studies have suggested that ways forward for universities and colleges might include the following:

• Prioritising culturally competent approaches to support services;

• Support services and campaigns addressing black students specifically, as black people with a mental health condition are in general less likely to disclose it, and may feel less able to open up in a multi-ethnic group;

• Linking up with black, Asian and minority ethnic groups and the students’ union on campus, to understand their unique challenges and support needs. This could help foster a greater sense of belonging.

This article appeared in the January issue of The Voice newspaper, which is in stores now. You can download your copy here.

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