Stephen C. Rose was a graduate of Harvard University and held a master’s degree. But Rose, after suffering from mental illness, committed suicide at the age of 29. Studies have shown that students of color at American colleges and universities are significantly less likely to seek help from mental health practitioners than White students.
The nonprofit Steve Fund was created by family and friends of Stephen Rose in 2014 to raise money for programs aimed at improving the mental health of students of color in the United States. It held its second annual conference at Stanford University on November 20.
A statement on the Steve Fund website notes that “right at this moment, there are students of color who are failing academically, suffering emotionally and/or in some cases facing serious risk, because population-specific factors influencing mental health are too poorly understood and not acted upon. We are taking action. We are dedicated to the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color.”
The Steve Fund recently entered into an agreement with Crisis Text Line to provide targeted online text messaging counseling for college students of color. Young people of color will be recruited and trained to act as counselors for college students of color who seek help from Crisis Text Line. The service targeting college students of color is expected to begin this coming winter. The service will be free to users. To date, Crisis Text Line has received more than 10 million messages seeking help in areas such as domestic abuse, eating disorders, child abuse, runaways, and dating violence.
“Research shows that differences in the ethnic background of students require culturally sensitive approaches to fully support their mental health and emotional well-being,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Steve’s mother. “But these needs are understudied, and underserved.”