Black Mental Health Week raises awareness about the historical and ongoing impact that systemic, anti-Black racism has on the mental health and wellness of Black communities.
Within the child and youth mental health sector, Black children, youth, and families continue to face systemic barriers to accessing safe and culturally appropriate mental health services that are created with an understanding of the unique experiences of Black communities and the impact of anti-Black racism Pathways to Care, a 5-year research project aimed at improving access to mental health care for Black children and youth, notes that Black youth access mental health care through the justice system and hospital emergency rooms at much higher rates than other populations. While this is representative of many systemic failures it notably highlights the inaccessibility of mental health care for Black children and youth, until moments of crisis. There is much work to be done to create more accessible pathways for Black youth to access care that is safe and responsive to their needs.
This year, CMHO and The New Mentality’s (TNM), Youth Action Committee released its fourth policy paper Adjusting the Spotlight: Re-centering Neglected BIPOC Youth Voices Surrounding Mental Health. Focused on the lived experiences of Black, Indigenous and racialized youth accessing mental health services in Ontario, this policy paper put forth six recommendations to address the current disparities in care for Black, Indigenous and racialized youth.
At CMHO, we have made the commitment to provide updates on the progress we’ve made related to improving racial equity internally and within the sector over time Advancing health equity, with a focus on racial equity remains an organizational priority for CMHO, and we are dedicated to continuing to work in partnership with members, key stakeholders, youth, and families towards the creation of a more equitable, accessible and safe child and youth mental health sector.
It is important to note that there continues to be multiple organizations that are Black-led or were developed in partnership with Black organizers and stakeholders that are working to develop and re-shape mental health care for Black communities. Their work has and always will be year-round and continues to push forward culturally appropriate and safe services for Black children, youth and families. We’d like to highlight some of these organizations below.
TAIBU Community Health Centre is a community-driven organization offering Black families in the GTA access to primary care, health promotion and additional programming in a culturally affirming environment. Most recently, TAIBU received $400,000 to develop a national knowledge network in support of the Government of Canada’s Mental Health of Black Canadians (MHBC) Fund. This project will build capacity to support the mental health and wellbeing of Black communities by exploring culturally responsive approaches to care.
Black Health Alliance is a community-led organization focused on improving the overall health and well-being of Black communities across Canada. BHA’s work is driven by key issues that impact the Black community including anti-Black racism to deliver research that is informed by Black experiences and relevant to community needs.
Black Youth Helpline was developed in response to the need for a Black youth specific service promoting access to culturally relevant support for Black children, youth and families. Now Black Youth Helpline is a Canada-wide multicultural service focused on education, health and community development.
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.
Image Credit: blackmentalhealthweek.ca