Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Michael T. Miller

Committee Member

Hevel, Michael S.

Second Committee Member

McCray, Suzanne


Black college students, Black college student's mental health, racism, discrimination, stigma, biases, predominantly white institutions (PWI), mental health, mental illness, cultural humility, oppression, low socioeconomic status


Black college students are experiencing mental health issues at an alarming rate. There is, however, a reluctance among Black college students to seek assistance. There is a stigma surrounding mental health. An individual with a mental illness is often stereotyped as weak, uncontrollable, or paralyzed by demons. Historical incidents such as slavery, the Tuskegee Experiment, Jim Crow, and the forced sterilization of Black women have led the Black community to distrust the medical system. The stigma embedded in the Black community is passed down from generation to generation. This literature review examines existing research on Black students and their perception of utilizing mental health services. Black college students who attend predominantly White institutions often face discrimination, racism, and microaggressions. For first-time students away from home, adjustment can be challenging. Concerns about being excluded from their classmates and faculty are prevalent among them. It is hard to manage the constant microaggressions and microinvalidations. The study involved 11 Black undergraduate students at the University of Arkansas, a Primarily White Institution (PWI) located at the intersection of the mid-south and mid-west. In the study, Black undergraduate students at a PWI reported not having a good sense of their mental health. Most of the students in the sample attempted to manage their mental health issues using the campus counseling services, both reflected in their direct statements that frequently used the word "okay." Black students at a PWI need to develop and maintain social support networks. Black college students see their racial identity as a significant part of what makes them who they are. Undergraduate Black students at a PWI were dissatisfied with campus counseling services due to a perceived lack of cultural awareness. The findings of this study will contribute to the continued discussion of how college campuses can address their student's needs and to the more extensive discussions of how Black students can gain access and successfully navigate higher education. This study is a small but critical step toward developing a deeper understanding of the infrastructure needed to support all college students.

Available for download on Thursday, February 05, 2026