ANN ARBOR—As the nation grapples with increasing reports of hate crimes against persons of color, and incidents and rhetoric reflecting a fear of immigrants, researchers who study the mental and emotional health of young people are turning to crowdfunding to find out quickly how these events are impacting college students of color.
Researchers at the Healthy Minds Network, led by the University of Michigan, want to learn just how vulnerable the mental and emotional health of this population has become, and the effect the current climate is having on social and academic outcomes.
"We have already seen in our previous data that students of color are more likely to experience discrimination and are at higher risk for mental health concerns. We want to make sure we have the best possible data to assess the current situation," said Daniel Eisenberg, professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health, and founder of the network.
"Here at U-M we have already seen plenty of anecdotal evidence that students are anxious or even despondent about recent political developments, and this seems especially true among students of color and students from immigrant families or communities. So we want to collect population data as soon as we can, to understand the current situation better."
Eisenberg and team are taking part in Experiment.com's Mental Health Challenge. Experiment is a crowdfunding program specific to research and intervention, which enables researchers to submit a project and seek funding from individual donations within 30 days.
It was started in 2012 under the name Microryza as a means to get research projects off the ground quickly, fund smaller projects or pay for aspects of research not funded through usual sources. Those who donate, in effect, become stakeholders in the research.
The deadline for the Healthy Minds project is Feb. 10, and the team hopes to raise $4,000 to conduct the research at universities across the country with large populations of students of color.