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The Steve Fund, a national advocacy organization focused on the mental health of young people of color, recently published a report with recommendations for college leaders to better support those students who are currently facing unprecedented mental health challenges.

The recommendations were formed by the organization’s Crisis Response Task Force, a group of students, mental health experts, colleges, nonprofits and corporate executives, created to address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout on the mental health of young people of color. The report also addresses the nation’s “racial reckoning” and how the death of George Floyd and wide acknowledgment of systemic racism can put additional emotional stress on those students.

The task force recommended that college leaders take a “trauma-informed approach” to decision making and show empathy toward racial injustices experienced by students of color in order to build trust, said the report published on Sept. 15. Counseling centers and mental health support staff on campus should collaborate with faculty members, student affairs and diversity, equity and inclusion staff members to respond to increased counseling center demand, the report said. Antiracist policies and the promotion of inclusion and belonging overall can have a positive impact on the mental health of students of color, the report said.

“Times of crisis and unrest in society and on campuses can drastically influence the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color, and ultimately derail their academic and career success,” the report said. “The recommendations of the task force aim to mitigate these risks.”