First-Generation Black College Men in the United States and the Value of Cohort-Based Programs: Addressing Inequities Through the YBMen Project

Watkins et al. / Springer / March 2023

Young Black Men Hands Together

The number of first-generation Black college men in the U.S. is growing, yet a deep understanding of their experiences is sparse in the literature. Despite prevailing social and racial injustices across the nation and the potential for campuses to support their health and wellbeing, Black college men still seek support from family and friends rather than professionals. Few Black college men seeking professional help raise questions about how they manage their mental health and this underscores the need for more targeted programs. The Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health (YBMen) project is an online psychoeducation program that uses popular culture (e.g., song lyrics, GIFs, YouTube, and headlines) to promote mental health, progressive definitions of manhood, and social support among Black college men. The YBMen Project seeks to better understand how Black men’s lived experiences influence their mental health, definitions of manhood, and transitions and trajectories. This chapter discusses the inherent value of the YBMen project in addressing inequities in mental health (i.e., outcomes, stigma, literacy), social support, and social capital for First-Generation Black College Men (FG-BCM). We conclude by demonstrating the importance of scaling the YBMen project and other cohort-based programs to improve the experiences of FG-BCM.