Black Mental Health Week
Black children and youth and their families continue to face barriers, both interculturally and systemically, when it comes to accessing trusted and responsive mental health services and care in Ontario. We also know that institutionally, wide-spread research on Black mental health is lacking, resulting in a system that is largely unresponsive to the lived experiences of Black children, youth and their families.
Black Mental Health Week is an opportunity to raise the profile of Black mental health and the call for services and care systems that reflect the expressed needs of the community – 365 days a year. The cumulative impact of multiple systems of oppression on Black communities continues to cause trauma and negatively impact their mental well-being. This means that services need to be responsive to the lived experience of Black children and youth and should be developed through meaningful engagement and partnership with Black communities.
Across the province, many agencies, through partnerships with Black organizers, key stakeholders and members of the community, are contributing to and delivering culturally responsive care. Below, we’d like to highlight some of these groups. The work being done by these organizations everyday contributes to filling these gaps in data collection and service provision and developing a mental health system that is responsive to the needs of Black and racialized communities. This work, research and care needs to be amplified and continuously integrated into the wider system network to create a more equitable mental health system in Ontario.
At CMHO, we will continue placing an equity lens on all of the work that we do, examining how our strategies can contribute to building pathways for Black youth to access care that is responsive to their needs.
The Black Youth Resilience Project
The Black Youth Resilience Project is a 3-year community-based research project engaging with Black youth to discern how best to breakdown the barriers to mental health care. The ultimate goal of BYRP is to develop a service delivery framework for the child and youth mental health sector that will improve mental health care delivery to Black youth in community.
Pathways to Care is a project borne out of a series of community consultations with Black youth, families and community members across Ontario where lack of mental health supports for Black youth was raised as a key issue. Pathways to Care is a 5-year project aimed at addressing this concern by removing barriers and improving access to mental health and addictions services for Black children and youth.
Across Boundaries provides mental health and addictions services for Black and racialized communities. Through an understanding of the impact of racism and anti-black racism on mental health and well-being, and an emphasis on the importance of active community engagement, Across Boundaries provides inclusive and responsive care to racialized communities in the GTA.
Substance Abuse Program for African Canadian and Caribbean Youth (SAPACCY)
SAPACCY provides mental health and addictions services to Black children and youth under 25. Care is provided through a cultural competence lens to address the lived experiences of Black youth confronting mental health and addictions challenges.
Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience and Culture Research Laboratory (V-TRaC)
V-TRaC studies coping and resilience strategies through the lens of vulnerability and trauma. The research project has three main axes, one of which being racial disparities in health and social services. This work examines social determinants of health, as a means to understanding the additional barriers the racialized community faces, when accessing mental heatlh services.
If you or your child are looking for support – we’re here to help. No problem is too big or too small. If you’re a racialized youth looking for support services, the option to request a Black therapist or counsellor through community child and youth mental health services is available. In addition to the resources above, Black Youth Helpline is another service providing culturally responsive mental health care, for Black youth looking for support.
Image credit: TAIBU Community Health Centre