Why Black Students’ Mental Health Is Suffering

The pandemic and protests are hurting mental health like never before. And Black students feel the brunt of it.

Rainier Harris
Published in
4 min readJan 26, 2021


Photo: GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images

As the dual forces of the Covid-19 pandemic and racial justice protests persist, another stressor is being added to the lives of young people across the country: school reopening. A June 2020 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that anxiety symptoms were three times as prevalent as those reported in late 2019 and depression was four times higher for the same period. According to reporting from the New York Times based on the survey, the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been felt most keenly by young adults ages 18 to 24.

Black students face the unique challenge of being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and with the backdrop of racial justice protests continuing across the nation, we’re left to wonder if schools are offering the support needed for them to thrive.

I spoke with three Black students about their experiences.

Asha Hassan-Nooli, 19, sophomore at The New School in New York City

For most of us, keeping up with the news is already draining. If you add in disproportionate Covid-19 deaths among Black and Brown populations and former President Trump’s tweets, you can try to imagine how staying tuned into current events is downright exhausting for Black students. Asha mentions how she copes.

“The internet makes it so easy for you to be bombarded with everything bad happening in the world at once. I find it so important to find time in the day to center yourself and refocus on where your intuitions lead you to.”

Her extra time at home has led her to use social media more, which is both beneficial and detrimental. While social media provides an escape from boredom, it can also feel like “an echo chamber of misfortune and misery,” she said. “I had to reintroduce things like casual strolls and walks to the park into my life to ground myself in the physical nature of the world.”

Asha is currently doing online classes and says it’s a lot harder than in-person…