For students of color on campus, finding mental health resources where someone could truly relate to the challenges they face every day as not only a student of color on campus, but in America, was difficult. To alleviate some of that struggle, the Student Multicultural Center has partnered with the Counseling Center to begin group counseling sessions for student leaders of color on campus.
Mindful Mentality is an initiative created by Shannon Ross, the program coordinator for the Student Multicultural Center. Ross said she recognized a need for students of color on campus and aimed to do something about it.
“There’s such a stigma around mental health and seeking out mental health help in communities of color and so very often students of color don’t feel connected to counseling resources on campus because they don’t see a lot of people who look like them,” Ross said.
“Shannon did a really good job of connecting what she identified as a need or a challenge that students faced here at Kent based on her knowledge of the student population. … It made the most sense to pursue it,” said Mike Daniels, the director for the Student Multicultural Center.
As Ross was in the planning stages of developing Mindful Mentality, she reached out to the Counseling Center on campus and was able to get two counselors of color to help facilitate the sessions.
The group counseling sessions are facilitated once a week by graduate students in the counseling program at Kent State.
“When the idea was presented to me to join Mindful Mentality, I was all for it just because it’s really beneficial, especially for Black indigenous people of color,” said Drelyn Cotton, a co-facilitator for Mindful Mentality. “That’s kind of what the group is based around, for students of color who don’t feel like they have a space to vent or express any kind of trauma they’re going through. So I just thought it was common sense to help out.”
While all of the sessions are online this semester, the connection with other students or their ability to show empathy has not been impacted. Mindful Mentality discusses a variety of topics during each session ranging from being a person of color in America to family life. The counselors allow the students to lead the discussion, but come prepared with topics just in case.
“It’s really a space for students to come in and talk about their experience. I may ask a question and then our conversations can go way left. It can go completely different,” said Imani Reynolds, the facilitator of Mindful Mentality.
One of the main goals that Mindful Mentality works toward is debunking some of the stigma that surrounds mental health with students of color, whether it be on campus, in the classroom or at home with family.
“Mental health is such a stigma in every single one of these minority communities and a lot of students feel like they don’t have a place to debrief and open up and just vent their frustrations about life and school,” Cotton said.
Overall, the initiative hopes to become a signature program in the center.
“We never want students to feel like they’re being supported academically on campus, but that they’re not being supported physically or emotionally because at the end of the day, academic support is only one part of it,” Ross said.
Cassidy Gladieux is the mental health reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.