Discussion: Mental health concerns for students of color heightened amid the coronavirus

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As a result of COVID-19, institutions of higher education around the world face unparalleled challenges, particularly for the mental health and emotional well-being of their students.

The pandemic has also laid bare deeply ingrained social inequities, inflicting disproportionate threats to the health and educational progress of communities of color.

From the start, the coronavirus ravaged minority populations in the United States and around the globe, with communities of color recording infection and death numbers that far outstrip their percentage of the population.

Related discussion: How systemic racism intersects with the coronavirus pandemic

The pandemic has exposed the entrenched health inequities propelled by social structures and influenced by factors ranging from housing conditions to transportation options to quality food access.

The intersecting identities carried by many students of color — such as socioeconomic, immigration, sexual orientation and cultural background — can amplify these disparities and their related traumas. And, George Floyd’s death this past spring, and ensuing global protests over systemic bias and racism, have rapidly escalated the health stressors on students of color.

All of this places significant and consequential obstacles on a young person's path in higher education. Young people of color around the world confront serious challenges and systemic inequalities in higher education that are only exacerbated amid the pandemic.

In the second part (watch part I here) of a series of conversations on mental health and communities of color with The Forum at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, this panel discussion, moderated by GBH News' Phillip Martin, addressed the mental health challenges in navigating today’s campus climate, social distancing protocols and remote learning experiences.


Phillip Martin
Senior investigative reporter, GBH Center for Investigative Reporting


Marvin Krislov
President, Pace University

Meeta Kumar
Director of counseling services, University of Chicago

Tabbye Chavous
Director of the National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan

Josephine Kim
Faculty, prevention science and practice/CAS in counseling, Harvard University Graduate School of Education

This panel discussion is presented in partnership with GBH News and The Forum at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health with the Steve Fund.

Reuters contributed to this post

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