Methods: Survey responses were collected from a nationally-representative sample of 688 Black college men who participated in the Healthy Minds Study. Sense of Campus Belongingness was measured using four items revised from Walton & Cohen’s scale of academic and social fit (2007). Flourishing was measured using Diener and colleagues’ (2010) flourishing scale. The GAD-7 (Spitze et al., 2006) and PHQ-9 (Kroenke et al., 2001) were used to measure anxiety and depressive symptoms. Suicidal behaviors were captured using single-items questions that asked participated to indicate whether they had thoughts of suicide or attempted suicide within the past 12 months.
Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was first used to assess dimensionality of the belongingness, flourishing, anxiety, and depression measures. These measures have not been validated among samples of Black men, and the factor structure of each scale should be examined before attempting to discuss predictive relationships. Items for the anxiety and depression factors were captured using a 4-point Likert scale, and in turn the WLSMV estimator was applied instead of the ML estimator. Items were freely loaded and factor variances were fixed to 1. Next, path analysis was employed to examine whether sense of campus belongingness is significantly associated with mental health outcomes. Missing data were handled using list wise deletion. All analyses were conducted using Mplus version 8.1 (Muthen & Muthen, 2017).
Results: Results yielded from the CFA suggest that the model was a very good fit [χ2= 509.825, p<.001; RMSEA= .026; CFI= .966; TLI= .962; SRMR=.059]. All item loadings ranged between .531 and .928. After assessing the factor structure, path analysis was used to examine relationships among key study variables. Path analysis results indicate that again the model was a good fit to the data [χ2= 603.480, p<.001; RMSEA= .023; CFI= .961; TLI= .956; SRMR=.079]. Belongingness was significantly associated with higher rates of flourishing (β= .490) and lower rates of anxiety (β= - .348), depression (β= - .413), suicide ideation (β= - .312), and suicide attempt (β= - .122).
Conclusions and Implications: Belongingness appears to be a critical factor in working to improve the well-being of Black male college students. It is imperative that university administrators create inclusive campuses that address and affirm the unique needs of Black college men.