Young people of color face increasing health disparities in the United States that impact multiple levels of their learning and life. When it comes to mental health especially, students of color tend to have greater unmet mental health needs relative to white students (1). At the New York School-Based Health Alliance, we believe in advocating and supporting students of all different racial and ethnic backgrounds and recognize the importance of equitable care when it comes to addressing these health disparities. School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) have an important role in outreach to these students and creating the safe school environment that will positively impact students of color. Below are some resources for SBHCs and staff, students of color, and parents/caregivers of students of color.
Resources for SBHCs and Staff
- National SBHA: Race, Equity and Inclusion in School-Based Health Care Webinar
- California SBHA: Integrated, Trauma-Informed Mental Health Care to Support Boys & Young Men of Color: Recommendations for School-Based Health Centers
- Community Psychology: Inclusion and Collaborative Design: School-Based Health Centers (SBHC)
- CDC: Action Steps to Address Health and Educational Disparities
- National Collaborating Center for Determinants of Health: Key Public Health Resources for Anti-Racism Action: A Curate List
- UC Berkeley Law School: An Approach for Improving Health Outcomes for Boys and Young Men of Color
- American Public Health Association:
- Center for American Progress: Mental Health Support for Students of Color During and After the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Black Lives Matter at School: website of the national coalition organizing for racial justice in education.
- NAACP: Education Page
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: Identity and Cultural Dimensions
Resources for Students of Color
- Mental Health Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC): includes Mental Health Provider Directories, Online Support Groups, and Self-Guided Virtual Resources for all different BIPOC communities
- BlackLine– a 24/7 national crisis support hotline (with a text option as well) provides a space for peer support and counseling, reporting of mistreatment, and affirming the lived experiences to those who are most impacted by systematic oppression. Operated with an LGBTQ+ Black Femme affirming lens.
- Mental Health for Students of Color brochure: provides resources, phone/text support, online communities, and apps for students of color struggling with their mental health. Furthermore, this brochure addresses the barriers to accessing mental health care, common challenges for students of color, and suggestions for self care.
- NYC Resources For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans & Gender Non-Conforming People Of Color: page created by the Audre Lorder Project, it includes contact information for organizations across NYC that provide support for LGBTQ+ people of color.
Resources for Parents/Caregivers
- PBS: Talking to Young Children About Race and Racism
- Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Protests, Racism and Our Children: Helping Kids Cope
- NPR: Talking Race With Young Children
- Embrace Race: Books that support kids to think critically about racial inequity
- HealthyChildren.org: Talking to Children About Racial Bias
Literature on SBHCs and Racial Health Disparities
For a full database on published literature related to School-based health centers and how they can help address racial health disparities visit the SBHC Literature Database built by the National School-Based Health Alliance. Below are some papers we believe highlight the important role of SBHCs in addressing and building awareness around how racism impacts the health and wellness of students of color.
Addressing the health and mental health needs of unaccompanied immigrant youth through an innovative school-based health center model: Successes and challenges
Finding: A coordinated, interdisciplinary approach with the school and other agencies allowed for a youth based, patient centered approach with access to multiple services within the school setting. Exposure to trauma, family separation, lack of parental support, and health care needs of UIY were similar to other newcomer groups.
School-Based Health Centers: Cost–Benefit Analysis and Impact on Health Care Disparities
Objective: We evaluated the impact of school-based health centers—which provide essential health care for students by aiming to eliminate many access barriers—on health care access disparities and conducted a cost–benefit analysis.
Finding: With SBHCs, the gap of lower health care cost for African Americans was closed. The net social benefits of the SBHC program in 4 school districts were estimated as $1 352 087 over 3 years. We estimated that the SBHCs could have saved Medicaid about $35 per student per year.
Racial disparities in school-based disciplinary actions are associated with county-level rates of racial bias
Objective: Black students in the United States are subject to disciplinary action at rates much higher than their white counterparts. These disciplinary actions put students at higher risk for negative life outcomes, including involvement in the criminal justice system.
Finding: Using federal data covering over 32 million students at nearly 96,000 schools, this research demonstrates that the disciplinary gap between black and white students across five types of disciplinary actions is associated with county-level rates of racial bias. Thus work emphasizes the need for policy targeting racial disparities in education and psychological bias.
A Nurse‐Led Model of Care to Address Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health at a School‐Based Health Center
Objective: To demonstrate that their SBHC is uniquely poised to address the Social and Behavioral Determinants of Health and that a coordinated team of educators and healthcare providers can influence health behaviors and outcomes.
Finding: In high-risk populations of Hispanic youths, students need a support system that integrates a holistic health approach into the educational setting.
Race/ethnicity and gender disparities in the utilization of a school-based hepatitis B immunization initiative
Objective: To determine if participation and completion rates in a school-based hepatitis B vaccination program differ based on individual demographic factors including insurance status, race, and gender.
Finding: Participation rates varied by race (p < .0001) with black and Hispanic potential enrollees participating more frequently than white and Asian potential enrollees. Females among black (p = .012) and Hispanic (p < .0001) participants and participants of Asian race/ethnicity (p < .0001) were more likely to complete the vaccination series.
Characteristic Differences Between School-Based Health Centers With and Without Mental Health Providers: A Review of National Trends
Objective: Minority racial/ethnic pediatric populations and those living in poverty are at greater risk of exposure to trauma, development of mental health disorders, and school failure yet are less likely to have access to mental health services. School-based health centers staffed with mental health providers may be one strategy for decreasing health care disparities.
Finding: A total of 70% of SBHCs offered mental health services. SBHCs with more resources, more students, a longer history, and state funding were more likely to offer services. Reviewing SBHC characteristics that enable inclusion of mental health services may help stakeholders expand this model of care.
Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Needed Adolescent Mental Health Care
Objective: Psychological problems are overlooked and undertreated in adolescents, especially in low-income and ethnically-diverse youth. School-based health centers are one way to increase health care utilization, and may be particularly important for accessing hard-to-reach populations. The present study examines adolescents’ psychological health and their experiences with receiving needed mental health care.
Finding: Across all ethnicities, the prevalence of depressive symptoms was highest among females. Depressed White students were more likely than depressed minority youth to report having received a prior diagnosis of depression and to have been treated for depression. Thus, ethnic disparities in obtaining needed mental health care may persist even in settings where access to equivalent care is readily available.