Black mental health services get $1.5 million boost

Alice Wiafe

While many people in Canada struggle with their mental health, certain groups face unique challenges because of systemic racism, discrimination, socio-economic status or social exclusion. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally impacted and exacerbated mental health challenges within these equity deserving communities.

To that end, the Government of Canada has announced close to $1.5 million in funding to support the mental health of Black individuals and communities.

Black Mental Health Canada is receiving $1.1 million for its project to build capacity among clinicians to provide culturally safe and appropriate mental health counselling, and support to Black clients who have experienced racial trauma or race-based traumatic stress. The project will reach mental health clinicians across Canada, including both Black providers treating Black individuals, as well as non-Black providers working in areas with high proportions of Black clientele.

Wanasah: Mental Health Services for Black Youth is receiving $400,000 for its project to develop Black-centric, trauma-responsive community support services in Toronto’s Regent Park community. This initiative will take a community-driven participatory approach to the development of culturally-safe, equity-focused mental health services. It will also support Black youth and their families to help prevent and mitigate the impacts of diverse forms of trauma exacerbated during the COVID-19

Namarig Ahmed

pandemic and post-pandemic recovery.

“We are honored and excited to receive funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to further our mission of promoting mental health and wellness in Black communities,” said Alice Wiafe, President, Black Mental Health Canada.

“With this funding, we can expand our programs and services to better support the mental health needs of Black Canadians, who have historically faced systemic barriers to accessing appropriate care. Our team at Black Mental Health Canada is committed to working tirelessly to ensure that our communities receive the support they need to thrive, and we thank the Public Health Agency of Canada for their investment in our work.”

Namarig Ahmed of Wanasah added, “As we all know, Black communities have been subjected to a long history of systemic racism, discrimination, and oppression, which has led to immense trauma, pain, and suffering. This trauma is intergenerational, and it impacts not only individuals but also families, neighborhoods, and entire communities. With a Black Centric and Culturally Relevant trauma program in Regent Park and neighbouring communities, we can help to rebuild trust, restore dignity, and promote a sense of purpose and belonging. This is not just about addressing past trauma but also about building a better future for generations to come.”

Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention are critical components for well-being and can help reduce demands on the health care system. Community-based projects focussed on mental health promotion have the potential to improve health outcomes over the life course.