The City of Toronto in partnership with non-profit TAIBU Community Health Centre, has declared Monday, March 2nd, 2020 as the first ever Black Mental Health Day in Toronto. The observance will be held every first Monday in March subsequently. Black Mental Health Day calls on all Canadians to voluntarily observe a moment of silence at precisely 4:28 PM, to acknowledge the effects of racism on the Black community.
Black Mental Health Day is part of an action plan from the Toronto For All Campaign, which focuses on the negative impact anti- Black racism has on the mental health of Black Torontonians. The campaign features three different posters that will appear in transit shelters until February 23 and culminates with Black Mental Health Day. The campaign was mandated by Action 22.3 from the Toronto Action Plan, to confront Anti-Black Racism; thus providing public education on how anti-Black racism negatively impacts the health of people of African descent, including being a trigger for mental illness
The campaign was created in consultation with TAIBU’s Community Advisory
Committee, which comprised a cross section of representatives including youth, seniors, Black focused organizations and members with lived experience. The Committee’s findings concluded that anti-Black racism is a historic, pervasive, and systemic issue in Toronto—affecting the life chances of more than 400,000 people of African descent who call Toronto home.
Experiencing systemic discrimination and microaggressions are social stressors that increase the risk of negative physical and mental health including anxiety, depression, suicide or suicidal thoughts, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, high blood pressure and premature mortality. The Committee approved a media awareness thrust to spotlight mental health in the Black community, and a day to unite and address the issue, thus breaking the silence, and encouraging persons to seek help.
The Committee’s findings surmised that Black Canadians are more likely to experience economic distress, racism, and other social circumstances that increase their chances of developing mental health issues. This is exacerbated by a lack of effective and culturally appropriate healthcare and community services,
Black Mental Health Day provides an opportunity to address anti-Black racism by acknowledging its existence, and its impact on the health and well-being of Black Canadians. The stakeholders in the Toronto for All campaign, are hoping to secure the commitment and allies from all public, private sector and major community and social institutions to examine their inclusiveness, and accessibility to Black Canadians; to support healthcare and social services to culturally responsive mental health supports
Meanwhile, members of the community are being urged to seek mental health care when needed, and to encourage others to do so as well by sharing personal stories, so no one has to suffer in silence. All Canadians are asked to stand in solidarity for Black Mental Health Day by observing a minute of silence at 4:28 pm, on Monday March 2nd.