Val Livingston, Angela Bost, Alandra Copeland
The mental health concerns of Black collegians at an urban HBCU were examined to identify possible connections to career choice decisions and racial trauma. The current study used findings from an initial inquiry regarding the help-seeking behaviors of Black collegians. Of the 43 fields of academic study represented by students seeking services, the disciplines of social work, psychology and nursing represented one-third. This finding led to the current inquiry as to factors influencing the phenomenon. Holland’s theory of vocational choice was employed to explain how common interests and experiences influence career choice decisions. Critical race theory was used to explain how the common experiences of racial trauma and past and present discrimination might lead to careers in the helping professions. Racial trauma has been linked to a host of mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and stress as well as a greater likelihood of physical health conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Researchers concluded that the stress associated with high level coping in the face of inequality, financial hardship, and racial discrimination challenge individual resilience wells and negatively impact mental and physical health resulting in healthcare disparities.