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Part 3 of 5: Mental Health Impact of COVID-19 on Various Demographic Groups

The impact of COVID-19 has led to widespread concerns about its unique effects on college students’ mental health. To examine this topic more broadly, CCMH is completing a five-part blog series using a wide range of longitudinal clinical data from students seeking mental health services at college counseling centers nationally.

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Rates of Discrimination and Racial/Ethnic/Cultural Concerns Among College Students Seeking Counseling Services

Recent national events have renewed our collective focus on racial injustice and the experiences of discrimination and racial, cultural and ethnic concerns. In an effort to contribute to this dialogue, CCMH took a closer look at the frequency in which students initiate counseling with discrimination and/or racial, cultural or ethnic concerns as primary presenting problems. To accomplish this, CCMH examined responses from the Clinician Index of Client concerns (CLICC), which is a checklist of possible presenting problems that is completed by the clinician after evaluating a student who is seeking mental health care. “Discrimination” and “Racial, ethnic, or cultural concerns” are two presenting problems that therapists can choose from a comprehensive checklist of more than 40 problem areas. Clinicians can “check all that apply” within the list of concerns. “Anxiety” and “Depression” have historically been assessed as the most common primary presenting problems experienced by college student seeking services (2019 Annual Report, p.15). Examining a large national sample of 82,685 clients from 98 college counseling centers during the 2018-2019 academic year, CCMH found that clinicians identified Discrimination as a presenting problem for 0.7% of clients and Racial, ethnic, or cultural concerns was selected for 2.7% of clients. Zooming in, it was discovered that the frequency of these presenting concerns varied considerably between majority and minority identity groups. CCMH has outlined the findings below (Please note, these data reflect the rates in which clinicians identify Discrimination and Racial, ethnic, or cultural concerns as primary presenting problems for students entering treatment and do not measure the percentage of clients who report a history of these problems):

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