Mental Health in Black Communities: Naming the Problem
The problem areas regarding healthcare within the Black community, similar to many other Canadian systems, are that they have often been an anti-Black tool of systemic discrimination. The Government of Canada’s article Social Determination and Inequalities for Black Canadians: A Snapshot , covers the topic of anti Black racism and the determinant of health. It supports a huge elephant in the room amongst the community and that is one based upon a lack of trust and confidence at times when addressing health.
We are no stranger to the claim that social economic and political institutions have the power to lay the groundwork and set the stage for an individual’s wellbeing in life. Be it racial profiling or over policing, lack of representation or lack of leadership access, under-treatment by certain health professionals or complete distrust of the very ones meant to save lives, something is broken here. And whatever is broken has left an open wound on racialized communities in which extreme stress physically and mentally fester.
I am a firm believer in research and admit this blurb is one of many materials out there. Looking through the lens of this specific government report, it is accurate to state that experiences of discrimination affect access to important resources for health when it comes to the Black community. If untrue, here are a few points from the article that are a good starting point for some reflection.
In Education “Black high school students are the most likely to be streamed into special education and applied programs, and are the least likely to enroll in college and university when compared to White and other racialized students.”
In Employment “In a study of employer responses to resumes of similarly qualified candidates with African or Franco-Quebecois last names, the candidates with Franco-Quebecois names were called for an interview 38.3% more often than those with African names.”
In Housing “Landlord discrimination against Black tenants is a common barrier to adequate housing. Studies in Toronto and Montreal have revealed exclusionary screening methods, refusal to rent or imposing financial barriers to renting (e.g. increasing first and last month’s rent).”
Finally, bringing us down to this very moment in the midst of a global pandemic, this article addresses what health stats Canada’s Melissa Moyser very clearly stated (View Here). They confirm that across most measures of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, participants from visible-minority groups had poorer outcomes than White participants.
Popular opinions note what steps forward for the black community look like:
- Awareness, education and discussion on mental health
- Responsive care providers
- Accessible mental health services
- To offer diagnosis & assessments at early stages of mental health deficits
- To collaborate with community agencies and partnered allies to address mental health
Mental Health Resource List:
Black Youth Helpline
National helpline for black youth and their families.
Black Health Alliance
The Black Health Alliance is a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada.
Across Boundaries provides a dynamic range of mental health support and services and works within Anti-Racism/Anti-Black racism and Anti-Oppression frameworks. These frameworks address the negative impact of racism and discrimination on mental health and well-being.
Black Space Winnipeg
Founded by members of Winnipeg’s Black community, Black Space Winnipeg is a grassroots organization that fosters organic dialogue on everyday experiences of being Black.
Rainbow Refugee is a Vancouver based community group that supports people seeking refugee protection in Canada because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression (SOGIE) or HIV status.
Caribbean African Canadian Social Services
CAFCAN is a not-for-profit agency whose primary focus is on building and strengthening the service framework for African Canadians through the use of psycho-social Interventional approaches.
Unison Benevolent Fund
Unison Benevolent Fund is a non-profit, registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. We are here to help professional music-makers in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties.
What’s Up Walk-In
The clinic provides free mental health counselling for children, youths, adults and families across Toronto. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 9am-7pm. Simply call 1-866-585-6486 to be connected to a counsellor.
Black Youth Helpline
Originally started in Manitoba, th Black youth helpline focuses on community development and support for Black youth across Canada. Its mission is the “primary prevention of social [and] psychological breakdown in communities through a focus on education, health and community development.”Black Mental Health Canada
Black Mental Health Canada
The mission of this Mississauga-based organization is to provide low-income at-risk individuals within the Black community access to affordable evidence-based mental health services, and focuses on culturally responsive services, programs and education for Black children and adults.
Project Heal by Black Space Winnipeg
In light of recent events, Black Space Winnipeg—a grassroots organization fostering organic dialogue on everyday experiences of being Black—has re-launched its community support program Project Heal. Due to social distancing guidelines still in effect across Canada, the program is moving to an online platform that aims to provide a safe space for Black folks in Winnipeg who want to work through trauma and focus on developing positive mental health practices.
This collective focuses on providing equitable, holistic mental health and addiction services for racialized communities in the Greater Toronto Area. It provides a range of mental health services within Anti-Racism/Anti-Black racism and Anti-Oppression frameworks, which address the negative impact of racism and discrimination on mental health and well-being. The organization currently provides services in many languages, including Caribbean dialects, Central and South Asian languages, and African Languages such as Xhosa, Afrikaans, Swahili and Somali.
ArTeMo Project by Africa Centre
The Council for Advancement of African Canadians in Alberta (CAAC), operating as Africa Centre, runs a mental health program known as the ArTeMo project. The program engages diverse Black youth and their families in Edmonton and Calgary to improve the overall mental well-being and empowerment of Black Canadians, including those who identify as LGBTQ2S+.
About BYH Black Youth Helpline
Black Youth Helpline serves all youth and specifically responds to the need for a Black youth specific service, positioned and resourced to promote access to professional, culturally appropriate support for youth, families and schools.
Mental Health in Black Communities: Listing More in the Community
Black Boys Code
Black Boys Code, we inspire young men of colour to find their confidence and realize they have the ability to take on any challenge. We help Black boys engage with culture and become tomorrow’s drivers, creators and innovators of technology.”
The Come Up (Alberta)
A youth empowerment group created out of the Africa Centre that shares “core values and principles and presents itself as a hub of African and Caribbean youth of our greater communities.”
Black Space Winnipeg
“Spreading perspectives of Afrocentrism, and pro-Black conversation, Black Space Winnipeg creates safe spaces for people of colour through hosting community events, artist demonstrations and workshops.”
Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue (BAND)
“Dedicated to supporting, documenting and showcasing the artistic and cultural contributions of Black artists and cultural workers in Canada and internationally.”
Nia Centre for the Arts
A Toronto-based charitable organization that strives “to build the creative capacities and support the development of a healthy identity in Black youth.”
Never Was Average
“Is dedicated to creating community-based artistic and cultural experiences. The intention behind our projects is to showcase the power that comes from sharing personal histories and inspire millennials to improve their wellness by living meaningful experiences.”
Centre multi-ethnique de Québec
A community organization whose mission is to welcome immigrants to facilitate their settlement and promote their access to better socio-economic conditions.
Black Community Resource Centre Quebec
“A growing, resource-based organization that strengthens community capacity by providing professional support to organizations and individuals in need.”
Côte-des-Neiges Black Community Association
“To support the development of social, cultural, educational and economic institutions in our community.”
The Black Coalition of Quebec
“Defends Black and other cultural communities which are often the targets of injustice and discrimination.”
New Brunswick African Association
“aims to promote the arts and culture of Africa. We also want to work with other ethno cultural groups, associations, organizations (profit and non-profit) to create a vibrant community in New Brunswick.”
Black Cultural Society of P.E.I.