A UF therapy group exclusively for men of color is looking to challenge how mental illness is stigmatized in African American communities.
Addressing mental health can be a difficult topic for college students, but seeking treatment for anxiety and depression is especially difficult for men of color, said Jennifer Martin, the group coordinator at the UF Counseling & Wellness Center.
“Social stigmas and financial barriers often prevent minority men from getting the help they need to improve their mental state,” Martin said.
The center is starting “Men of Color at UF,” its first therapy group targeted toward men of color, this semester on Tuesdays from 3-4:30 p.m. at the center, Martin said. There is no scheduled starting date until spots fill up.
The center is encouraging students to sign up to fill about 10 spots. It is part of the “Understanding Self and Others” project, an initiative created by the center that promotes group therapy sessions for struggling students, Martin said.
Topics to discuss at the sessions will be centered around the individual needs of the students, Martin said.
“Meeting in groups to discuss mental health provides students with support from others experiencing the same problems,” Martin said. “This gives them a base that is not only helpful but comfortable to talk about their concerns.”
Jennifer Stuart, a counselor at the center, said one of the greatest benefits of the “Men of Color at UF” group is how often members will meet to discuss whether they are improving mentally from participating in the program.
Although the center will continue to accept students throughout the semester, it is best for them to join early so they can fully benefit from the group session, Stuart said.
“We like to keep the groups small and the members close to each other,” Stuart said. “It allows each student to benefit from the treatment as best as they can.”
Those interested in joining the group therapy session can reach out to the counselors at the center to sign up, Stuart said. More information on the program and other therapy sessions can be found on the center’s website.
Nathan Athouriste, an African American 19-year-old UF marketing sophomore, said he believes the therapy group will be helpful to men of color on campus.
“I feel like mental health isn’t talked about enough in the black community,” Athouriste said. “Hopefully, this will kick-start the conversation.”