New Framework Guides Institutions in Supporting Mental Health Needs of Students of Color

According to a joint report by The Steve Fund (TSF) and The Jed Foundation (JED) — two national nonprofit organizations that seek to promote the mental and emotional well-being of teens and young adults — college students of color face disproportionate mental health challenges compared with their white peers.

According to a recent Harris Poll of 1,000 college students conducted by TSF and JED, students of color are significantly more likely than their white peers to report feeling isolated on their campus, and they are less likely to describe their campus as inclusive. In addition, data indicate that they are nearly twice as likely to not seek help when they feel depressed or anxious.

To help colleges and universities better address the mental health needs of these young people, TSF and JED partnered to create a set of 10 recommendations and strategies institutions can use on campus. Called the Equity in Mental Health (EMH) Framework, it was developed using findings from the Harris Poll, existing scientific literature, and input from higher education administrators and experts from the College Mental Health Program at Mclean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.

The EMH Framework calls for a comprehensive, integrated approach to mental health on the part of academic institutions. This includes incorporating language about emotional and mental well-being into college mission statements and strategic plans, conducting regular student surveys to ensure that mental health services continue to align with institutions’ changing demographics, and creating specific staff positions designed to support the well-being and success of students of color.

“These expert recommendations … [equip] colleges and universities to better address our students’ needs,” TSF President Evan Rose said in a press release. “This effort is critical to the mental health, college completion, and life chances of the nation’s most rapidly growing demographic … — young people of color.”

Released in November, the framework has already been embraced by many senior leaders in higher education. For more information, visit

This article ran in our March 2018 issue.