Students of Color Resources


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

Resources for Students of Color

Resources for Parents/Caregivers

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



Objective: To discuss successes and challenges working with unaccompanied immigrant youth in a school-based health center.

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.