Black Student Mental Health: An Analysis of Accessibility of Mental Health Resources at Queen’s University

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Thammachack, Ampai
Mental Health , Health Equity , Black Students , Black Mental Health , Black Geographies , Health Geography , Mental Health Geography , Queen's Students , Racism , Discrimination
This study seeks to answer four primary questions: first, how/why does being Black impact a student’s mental health? Second, how does race impact how Black students seek care? Third, what are the barriers to care that Black students face? Fourth, what can ideally be done to improve the mental healthcare system? A recruitment letter was distributed on Facebook and Instagram advertising a $25 Amazon gift card for a 30-minute interview. 30 students were interviewed. Interviewees are self-identified Black students at all levels of study, from undergraduate to professional studies and recently graduated from Queen’s University (Canada). All participants were asked the same questions. Interviews were analyzed using a constant comparative method to examine the barriers to care and ways to improve the system. Participants identified several barriers to care, such as a lack of racially representative advertisements, financial and insurance barriers; long wait times; a lack of mental health education; negative perception of mental healthcare; a fear of being misunderstood due to a lack of culturally competent mental health professionals; and a lack of racially diverse counsellors. However, participants also provided hope for the mental health system by recommending that university administration and provincial and federal governments take many measures to improve the mental healthcare system, including implementing cultural competence training; establishing online booking systems; building inclusive mental health education programs; collaborating with lawmakers and politicians to integrate mental healthcare into primary care, and prioritizing mental healthcare in Canadian healthcare funding models. While there are several barriers to care, there are clear and tangible ways to make mental healthcare more accessible for Black students. This study contributes to current scholarship by adding to the field of critical Black geographies. It has not only identified barriers Black students face but provides valuable ways forward for institutions of higher learning and government to increase access to mental healthcare.
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