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Enhancing Racial/Ethnic Equity in College Student Mental Health Through Innovative Screening and Treatment


Although college campuses are diversifying rapidly, students of color remain an underserved and understudied group. Online screening and subsequent allocation to treatment represents a pathway to enhancing equity in college student mental health. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate racial/ethnic differences in mental health problems and treatment enrollment within the context of a largescale screening and treatment research initiative on a diverse college campus. The sample was comprised of n = 2090 college students who completed an online mental health screening survey and were offered either free online or face-to-face treatment based on symptom severity as a part of a research study. A series of ordinal, binomial and multinomial logistic regression models were specified to examine racial/ethnic differences in mental health problems, prior treatment receipt, and enrollment in online and face-to-face treatment through the campus-wide research initiative. Racial/ethnic differences in depression, anxiety and suicidality endorsed in the screening survey were identified. Students of color were less likely to have received prior mental health treatment compared to non-Hispanic white students, but were equally likely to enroll in and initiate online and face-to-face treatment offered through the current research initiative. Rates of enrollment in online therapy were comparable to prior studies. Online screening and treatment may be an effective avenue to reaching underserved students of color with mental health needs on college campuses. Digital mental health tools hold significant promise for bridging gaps in care, but efforts to improve uptake and engagement are needed.

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