Educational leaders and students gathered together during a recent Harvard University 'Let's Talk!' conference to discuss how campus mental health services still do not meet the needs of all students, highlighting that in particular Asian and Asian American students are often left out of important student health discussions, reports Diverse Issues.
Sessions examined critical mental health factors for the groups, with emphasis on high rates of suicidal thoughts among Asian American students in comparison to their peers, and the decreased likelihood for these students to seek mental health care through campus resources. A significant challenge for the group, some presenters said, is the "model minority" stereotype that ties Asian students' high academic performance rates to a wide perception that they do not need mental health support.
- Other factors include cultural and identity issues stemming from students having little to no mental health literacy, shame that contributes to their suppressing negative feelings, and concerns about finding a therapist who can truly identify with these factors for adequate treatment.
The challenge for many colleges is not just being able to identify increased vulnerability factors for minority students, but in understanding how greater vulnerabilities add to the common negative experiences students are already likely to face just by nature of being on campus.
For minority students, the feelings of racial stereotypes, isolation and lack of support services are compounded by realities of most institutions having far too few counseling resources, and nearly half of students in LGBTQ communities dealing with suicidal thoughts.
But there are possible solutions. Campuses like Texas A&M University-San Antonio and the University of Southern California have built academic and social resources for military veterans that include services for mental health, social acclimation and career placement. Similar models could be used to support minority students, but the concern for these kinds of services could be potential negative feedback from other students, faculty members and administrators who deem these kinds of provisions as 'safe space' just for minority students.