By: Joshua Anih
March 7th marks the beginning of Black Mental Health Week in the City of Toronto — a week where we recognize and reflect on the impact of anti-Black racism and systemic inequity on the Black community.
Organized by TAIBU Community Health Centre in association with the City of Toronto, the awareness campaign highlights the challenges Black Torontonians face concerning their mental health.
Black youth in Toronto are subject to numerous mental health burdens due to systemic barriers. Exposed to traumatic experiences such as gun violence, incarceration, drugs, financial insecurity, social exclusion, racism, and racial profiling, Black youth are more likely to face mental illness than their white counterparts. However, since Black populations disproportionately live in low-income areas, they have limited access to mental health support. As a result, Black youth are often forced to overcome their mental health problems alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue, with Black Canadians reporting poorer mental health than White Canadians during the pandemic.
Black Mental Health Week serves as an important opportunity to acknowledge the many mental health challenges Black Torontonians face. The campaign also espouses ongoing efforts to implement the systemic change needed to address social barriers harming Black mental health.
Although more needs to be done to alleviate the mental health burdens that afflict Black communities, Black Mental Health Week is an important step forward in providing culturally safe, equitable, and inclusive mental health services to Black youth in Toronto.
For more information on Black Mental Health Week, including events that will be held throughout the week, visit blackmentalhealthweek.ca. If you or someone you know is looking for mental health support, please consult these Toronto mental health resources.
Joshua is a third-year undergraduate student at McMaster University pursuing an Honours degree in Life Sciences. Joshua currently serves as an Urban Health Working Group Research Lead and has been involved with the TYC for a year. His passions lie in promoting healthcare innovation as it relates to health equity.