Along with academic impacts, college contexts can serve to support or challenge students’ personal development and well-being in important ways. Increasingly, researchers and higher education institutions are paying attention to college student mental health, but less of this focus has considered the specific contextual experiences, challenges, and supports relevant to Black students’ mental health as they enter and navigate predominantly White institutions (PWI).  College student research shows that, along with the social and academic challenges of college experienced by most/all students, Black students routinely report negative race-related experiences in their PWI settings — microaggressions and discrimination; biased stereotype-based treatment, low expectations; and both isolation/exclusion and hypervisibility (over-monitoring as suspicious or dangerous) due to race. Black students’ racially marginalizing experiences are sometimes tied to students’ multiple identities (e.g., their race along with their ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientations, among other identities). Such devaluing experiences have been linked to poorer academic achievement and persistence outcomes, but these experiences likely function to undermine mental health as well.

Now more than ever, a focus on Black college student mental health is critical. In 2020, Black students are entering their college campuses (in-person or remotely) after a summer of widespread protests against anti-Black police violence and systemic racism, sparked by public witnessing of videos depicting murders and brutalizing of Black Americans by police. Many Black students are also coming from communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the knowledge that these differential impacts are directly and indirectly due to systemic racism. Thus, while Black students bring many personal and cultural strengths to their campuses that can be leveraged to support their positive college adjustment, they also experience unique challenges and vulnerabilities due to racism — both on their campuses and in the broader society — that can undermine their well-being and thriving on campus. Higher education must be accountable in understanding Black student experiences and, importantly, acting on this knowledge to meet the goals of supporting and serving all students equitably.

This webinar will feature the research of three scholars actively engaged in research on the positive mental health of Black college students. All are grant recipients of the 2020 National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) Pop-Up Grant program cycle, themed around Mental Health among Marginalized Communities, and co-sponsored in partnership with The Steve Fund. Each scholar will share research findings yielded from their grant projects and outline specific implications and recommendations for research and action.


Tabbye M. Chavous, PhD | Professor of Education and Psychology, Associate Vice President for Research, and NCID Director at the University of Michigan. Dr. Chavous is also a co-founder, co-director, and principal investigator in U-M's Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context (CSBYC).Her research and collaborations with faculty and student colleagues focus on: identity development among Black adolescents and young adults; achievement motivation processes — including relationships among students' racial/ethnic, gender, and academic identities; psychological and academic resilience among ethnic minority students; and the impacts of school/campus climates on students' academic, social, and psychological adjustment.


Martinque K. Jones, PhD | Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of North Texas. Martinque "Marti" Jones, PhD studies racial and gender identity and their implications for Black women's mental health and counseling.  She has ongoing research that explores gendered racial identity, defined as the significance and meaning Black women attribute to their membership in Black and woman social identity groups, and its association with race- and gender-based discrimination. She is also exploring the utility of a culturally responsive group therapy intervention (Invincible Black Women) with Black college women and has expanded this work to the community through outreach programming.

Seanna Leath, PhD | Assistant Professor of Community Psychology at the University of Virginia. Dr. Seanna Leath's research uses interdisciplinary approaches in education and psychology to understand and address issues related to the holistic development of Black girls and women in the context of families, schools, and communities.Using a resilience framework, she considers the role of social identity development on the academic and psychosocial growth and well-being of Black girls and women.

Carmen M. McCallum, PhD | Associate Professor of Leadership and Counseling at Eastern Michigan University. Dr. Carmen M. McCallum's research interests include access and retention within graduate education; African American students and faculty; programmatic assessment and evaluation; graduate students' mentoring and well-being; and supervision. She is most interested in understanding how race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status influence students' experiences.

Co-sponsored by the National Center for Institutional Diversity and The Steve Fund.

The NCID Research and Scholarship Seminar Series features scholars who advance our understanding of historical and contemporary social issues related to identity, difference, culture, representation, power, oppression, and inequality. The series also highlights how research and scholarship can address current and contemporary social issues.