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MCC looks to strengthen mental health support for diverse students

MCC student Courtney Renford
MCC student Courtney Renford

A conference at Monroe Community College on Friday has the goal of trying to strengthen mental health support for a diverse student population.

College officials note that the intersection of three crises, COVID-19, economic struggles and racial injustices, has taken a toll on the mental well-being of many college students and also exposed health disparities in communities across the state and the nation.

Calvin Gantt is Chief Diversity Officer at MCC. He said that a number of students are dealing with these issues, particularly students of color.

“We’re not really spending a lot of time talking about the psychological or the emotional impact of some of the issues that come along with racism, discrimination, bias,” Gantt said.

Among the MCC students impacted by the events this year is Courtney Renford. She is a health studies major who works a full-time job in production at a local manufacturer. With the COVID crisis, Renford was out of work for two months, but she’s back on the job now.

MCC Chief Diversity Officer Calvin Gantt
MCC Chief Diversity Officer Calvin Gantt

Renford said it’s been a tough year for her, not only temporarily losing her job, but her brother also came down with the coronavirus. He is doing better now.

And Renford says that she was also impacted by the death of Daniel Prude and participated in one of the protest marches.

“I know there’s people all over campus with different situations than mine, but everyone faces some sort of adversity, some sort of challenge, especially students of color or people that are hindered in certain ways, be it by their looks or their certain abilities or disabilities.“

The virtual conference being held by MCC on Friday will talk about ways to mitigate psychological distress for diverse communities and cultivate effective learning environments, both on campus and through remote learning .

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.