Engaging Black males in a discussion about mental health is important considering the nation’s history of discrimination. HBCUs have the opportunity to sponsor panel discussions, provide educational materials and access to mental health counselors during homecoming. Inviting alumni and students to have an open dialogue is consistent with HBCUs focus on communalism. Institutions should consider adopting the adage, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper.” The phrase is rooted in principles that would challenge Black males to consider how to help classmates. Homecoming represents a rare opportunity to talk to males from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.
HBCUs can apply for funding through organizations including the HBCU Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health at Morehouse’s School of Medicine. The center provides grants and webinars for HBCUs. Funding successful programs is the key to continuing the dialogue on mental health. Some HBCUs have created programs that could be adopted at other institutions. Overall institutions should consider implementing the following:
- Creating support groups for Black males
- Working with off campus organizations to increase outreach efforts
- Providing professional development opportunities for administrators, faculty and staff
- Developing an online portal focused on mental health
- Developing or increasing funding to wellness centers
Ensuring HBCUs are equipped to combat stereotypes is critical. Homecoming offers a great opportunity to discuss this important topic. Mental illness is an issue that receives scant attention within the Black community. Far too often, Black males suffer in silence because of stigmas associated with mental illness. Encouraging Black males to seek support could inspire students to develop programs and support groups. HBCUs should collaborate with alumni and students throughout the year to provide vital mental health services. Institutions can no longer afford to ignore this critical issue. Taking a proactive approach to mental health is important considering it’s long-term impact on minority, underserved populations.