A Texas-based historically Black college is ensuring that all of its students have the support and resources needed to overcome trauma developed from past experiences. According to Dallas News, Paul Quinn College has launched a mental health campaign to help students address internal obstacles so they can thrive academically.
At one point the school had one of the lowest graduation rates in the country and that prompted faculty members to get to the root of the issue. With the help of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, they discovered that the core of the problem was trauma and many of the students were suffering from PTSD. Students were carrying the emotional burdens of tragic past experiences from their upbringings and environments and some were carrying the weight of being first-generation college students on their shoulders. “We thought we were doing good,” said Paul Quinn College president Michael Sorrell. “‘We’re bringing you out of that environment and you’ll be safe. And life will be great.’ … It took us a while to understand that that was a product of trauma.”
With a grant given to the school by Gov. Greg Abbott, the institution has been able to launch several programs and initiatives under its campaign. Incoming freshman and transfer students have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a counselor and the school has an on-campus mental health center which is overseen by Dr. Stacia’ Alexander. The center is decorated with images of celebrities who have been transparent about their struggles with mental health so that the students can see themselves reflected. “The thing we’re trying to get students to understand is that those traumas are real,” Dr. Alexander told the news outlet. “And they do impair or affect how you process daily information. And if you continue to ignore that, you’re going to continue to be impaired and not reach your full potential.” In addition to the counseling, there are several wellness and fitness activities that take place on campus.
Initiatives like the one being led at Paul Quinn College are needed. Studies show that over 20 percent of incoming college students have battled with mental health disorders.