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Black Student Mental Health

For more information about Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Communities, click here.


The resources included on this page address the mental health needs of black students. Black students attending predominantly white institutions may be subject to institutional racism and structural inequities that make it more challenging to progress and success through the institution. Add to that a global pandemic that disproportionately impacts communities of color and a spate of shootings of unarmed black people it adds to the stress, pressure and anxiety that some students feel.

You are not alone. The tips and resources that follow are provided to help you cope, succeed and thrive in this environment.

This page also benefited from the expertise of and collaboration with the CAPS Diversity & Inclusion Committee and UNC Charlotte Student Body Representatives.


image of students

MENTAL HEALTH TIPS FOR BLACK STUDENTS

  • What are some of the common challenges that Black Students face?

    • Black students can often experience a number of concerns, those common to the general college experience as well as some specific to their identities.  Some of the concerns most commonly named are racism/discrimination, racial trauma, John Henryism and the Strong Black Woman stereotype, lack of acceptance of gender and sexual identity (intersectional identities), intergenerational trauma, imposter syndrome, feeling “tokenized”, and experience a lack of black community (especially at Predominanty White Institutions (PWIs).
    • With all of these concerns being possible as a part of your experience at UNCC, there are a number of strategies and resources provided below to assist you as you move forward. 
       
  • What are some suggestions for good self-care?

    • Build and maintain community.  It can be so validating to be able to openly discuss your thoughts and feelings with folks who understand your perspective and are comfortable talking about matters of race, oppression, equity, and justice.  Having community allows folks to remain engaged in their lives and the pursuit of their values while offering a safe space for respite during the challenging times when the struggle may feel overwhelming.
    • Engage in good sleep hygiene, exercise, and nutrition.  You’d be surprised at how much better you feel when you hit these basics.  Alternatively, you may notice how much worse you feel when sleep, exercise, and/or nutrition are out of sync.  Think about how hard it is to think after pulling an all nighter!  Getting your body right helps you to engage more presently and meaningfully in the things you want to do.
    • Engage in activism/social justice work.  Often when we are faced with the power that oppressive systems have over our lives, it can engender a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, which obviously affects our mental health.  One way to combat these is to engage in activities that have the possibility of changing these systems.  There are many options for doing this.  Engaging in a protest, calling attention to inequity in our personal relationships, writing blogs, doing research.  Be creative with it and know that you can always pursue justice!
    • Set healthy boundaries. Knowing your limits is key. Hustle culture (constantly working, grinding to achieve status, money, etc.) has been lauded by some as a way to get ahead or deal with the financial impact of a pandemic that disproportionately impacts communities of color. But it often costs people their mental and physical health because they are always working at the expense of their health and other things (family, social life). As the elder's say, "you can't pour from an empty cup!" Setting boundaries is how we sustain ourselves and have the mental and physical energy to continue.
    • Engage in reflective practices. Having time to disconnect and check-in with yourself is one of the ways you can really attend to your needs.  There are a number of options here: mindfulness practice, journaling, self-affirmations, self-compassion exercises.  Finding what works for you is half the battle.
    • Make a plan for self-care.  This might be the other half of the battle.  It’s so easy to get caught up in life with our daily responsibilities.  That’s why establishing a routine of self-care with a plan based on those practices that re-energize you during certain circumstances and situations in your life is so essential.  Be intentional! 
       
  • What should I know about coming to CAPS?

    • Counseling services (group, relationship, and individual counseling; coping workshops) are available to all enrolled students at no additional charge (covered by your student fees). 
    • Given the barriers that often face black students when getting connected to helpful services, we encourage you to advocate for things that would make you feel more comfortable in counseling.  For example, you can ask to work with a counselor who shares your racial identity.
    • Everyone needs help sometimes, and reaching out for support is indicative of strength, adaptivity, and resilience, NOT weakness 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR THE BLACK STUDENT COMMUNITY

Student Organizations

There are a number of student organizations at UNC Charlotte that specifically support our black student community. Visit Niner Engage to learn more. 

Off-Campus & Virtual Resources

Resources in this section are for informational purposes only; referral resources are not affiliated or endorsed by UNC Charlotte

Therapy/Counseling Resources

Online Resources