Let us seek the help that is available


On Monday, Toronto Mayor John Tory proclaimed March 1-5 as Black Mental Health Week.

Readers will no doubt recall that last year, the City of Toronto launched  the first Black Mental Health Day in partnership with TAIBU Community Health Services.

But this year, as a news release from the City of Toronto points out, ” the day was expanded to a week to provide greater opportunity to facilitate and cultivate greater awareness of the impacts of anti-Black racism on Black communities, families and individuals.”

Anti-Black racism continues to be a major problem. in our midst. It affect the lives of more than 400,000 people of African descent  in  Toronto.

And let’s face it; Experiencing systemic discrimination and microaggressions are social stressors that increase the risk of negative physical and mental health.

We are well aware that there are many in our Black community who shun any discussion about mental health problems. For so many from the Caribbean,  these problems remain a tabooed subject.

But as Mayor Tory stated, ” by proclaiming Black Mental Health Week and raising awareness around the need for more services and support, we are fostering an environment that allows for more open and honest conversation which can result in meaningful change. ”

Noting that it can be difficult to speak about mental health, Tory said he would like to encourage residents in the Blalck community ” to speak about their pain and access to mental health resources not only during Black Mental Health Week but throughout the year so that people can receive the support they need.”

Unfortunately, many in our own comunity  still do not know where to turn for help when a mental health crisis arises during the current COVID-19  pandemic.

Last April, the City of Toronto developed a COVID-19 Mental Health Support Strategy and partnered with 13 key mental health service providers to support the mental well-being of Toronto’s  ” most vulnerable residents.”

In order to provide culturally-responsive and appropriate supports to Black residents who are struggling with isolation, stress and anxiety exacerbated by COVID-19 measures, the City partnered with Across Boundaries and Caribbean African Canadian Social Services (CAFCAN) as part of this strategy. Black residents are also able to access services and supports from any of the providers that are part of the strategy, which support a cross-section of diverse Torontonians.

And, of  course, through the Mental Health Support Strategy, residents from all backgrounds can access free mental health support from their own homes through text, online or by phone by simply calling 2-1-1 or visitingwww.211toronto.ca/. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Let us no longer ignore the growing mental health problems in our midst.Let us seek the help that is available.