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The focus should be placed on mental health in our black communities during Black History Month.

It’s February in Canada and it’s Black History Month. Events and celebrations honouring the contributions of Black people to Canada and their communities are held this month across the country.

Ours to tell

The theme for Black History Month in 2023 is "Ours to tell." This theme offers an opportunity for open discussion and a commitment to learning more about the backgrounds, accomplishments, struggles, and victories of Black communities in Canada. This includes the state of the Black Canadian communities' mental health.

The stigma

In Black communities, mental illness carries a significant amount of stigma. According to an Ottawa Public Health study, 66% of participants think that most people would be less understanding of someone who is suffering from a mental illness. 40% of people also think it's a sign of personal failure to seek treatment for a mental health condition. Poor mental health is stigmatized heavily and is seen as a sign of frailty by many. The Black community as a whole is impacted by this widely held belief, which keeps people from talking about their problems.

Systemic injustice

The Black community has historically experienced economic discrimination. People who are unemployed or have lower-than-average incomes might not have access to the same range of mental health services that are available to those who can afford to pay privately or use employer-sponsored insurance plans. The number of mental health services and programs available to Black communities is typically lower.

The options available

These are just a few of the many obstacles that Black people must overcome in order to receive mental health care. Fortunately, there are ways for non-Black people, organizations, and healthcare workers to impact the situation.

Help is out there

Make people aware of the resources that are available Here are some examples of the resources that are offered:

Toronto For All: Anti-Black Racism & Black Mental Health: A selection of organizations and helplines in the Toronto area

Black Women in Motion: A Toronto-based organization that provides consent and mental health education, advocacy, and support for Black women and non-binary people, and survivors of sexual violence

Black Youth Helpline: A multicultural helpline and services that focus on community development and support for Black youth across Canada

Black mental health matters: A service in the GTA that caters to clients who typically can’t afford mental health services, and provides low-cost treatment options with a therapist who is culturally understanding

Black mental Health Alliance: A community-led charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada.

Here’s Malcolm X, from 1965, on CBC’s Front Page Challenge.

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