By Isaiah Singleton
Xceleader announced a new partnership with BetterHelp, the world’s largest online therapy platform, providing 200 students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities with three months of access to free counseling services.
This partnership offers much-needed mental health support to students and promotes a proactive approach to mental health and wellness.
In 2018, Xceleader was created by three HBCU alumni: Aarian Forman (Tennessee State University), Jade Agudosi (Howard University), and Tevon Blair (Dillard University).
Recently, there has been a significant rise in the prevalence of depression and anxiety among Black students. A study from the National Institutes of Health found that approximately 34% of Black students reported feeling “so depressed in the last year it was difficult to function.”
Xceleader’s primary focus is on providing students with access to resources, mentorship, and opportunities to enable them to thrive academically and professionally. By partnering with BetterHelp, Xceleader aims to further their mission by addressing the pressing need for mental health support among students, especially those actively engaged in leadership roles on campus.
BetterHelp offers a wide range of mental health services, including therapy, counseling, and self-help resources. Now, HBCU students have access to additional resources to take charge of their mental health while being leaders on campus and in their communities.
This partnership represents a significant step forward in addressing the mental health challenges faced by students at HBCUs. By working together, Xceleader and BetterHelp hope to promote a proactive approach to mental health and wellness, creating a brighter future for students in the HBCU community. Students can access the voucher code by joining Xceleader’s email list.
The three founders spoke to the Atlanta Voice about their new partnership with BetterHelp and furthering their organization.
The Atlanta Voice: How did the partnership with BetterHelp come to be?
Aarian Forman: Working closely with students, we started to hear more stories about the challenges they were facing, relative to their mental wellness, and the impact it was having on their academic and personal lives. Most recently, the tragic loss of a student’s life has brought to light the critical importance of mental health support and services for students, especially within the HBCU community. We believed that BetterHelp, with its robust platform of virtual counseling services, was uniquely positioned to help address this pressing need.
AV: Is there a mentor in your life that inspires you as a business owner?
AF: Both of my role models in business are Black women. Dr. Glover, President of Tennessee State University, continues to inspire me to aim high, use my platform, and resources to support HBCUs and champion them in every space I’m in. Since my time serving as SGA President at TSU until now, she has continued to be an example of brilliance and leadership. Elicia Azali, Enterprise Chief Marketing Officer at American Family Insurance Group, gave me an opportunity of a lifetime, a seat at the table as a green professional. I was working directly with senior leaders early in my career and watching her has taught me so much and continues to inspire me. These women are two leaders that prove to me that it’s possible for me one day.
AV: Was there a moment that inspired you to start Xceleader?
Jade Agudosi: As an alumna of Howard University, I understand the importance of giving back to my alma mater and driving change among the broader HBCU community. When we started Xceleader, we saw a need to create an organization to share our gained knowledge and experiences in leadership with new and aspiring leaders as an opportunity to give back through service, time, and resources.
AV: What are your business goals for 2023 with Xceleader?
JA: In previous years, our programming and engagement were mostly conducted in virtual settings. However, we are excited to share that Atlanta will now serve as the home for Xceleader. Moving forward, we will focus on programming specifically designed for HBCU students and alumni in the Atlanta area, while also establishing connections with university and non-profit leaders.
AV: Any advice to future business owners about taking the plunge?
Tevon Blair: For aspiring nonprofit leaders seeking to support Black students, my advice is to lead with purpose and the ability to be adaptable to change. In our experience, the pandemic shifted how our programs and how we provided support to students. By listening to the challenges, they encountered, we were able to continue serving as a valuable resource to students as the outside environments constantly changed.
AV: How do you plan on building off this partnership with BetterHelp?
TB: At Xceleader, our work focuses on developing students as leaders whether it is on campus, in the classroom or within communities. However, mental health is often left out of the conversation when students are actively involved and we hope to address this issue through our partnership with BetterHelp by promoting a proactive approach to mental health and wellness, creating a brighter future for students in the HBCU community.