This Black History Month, we honour the work of Black Canadians, past and present, to the field of mental health in Canada. Despite ongoing systemic racism and unequal opportunities, African, Caribbean, and Black Canadians continue to make significant contributions to this field.
Mental health advocate, entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, documentary filmmaker, actress and podcaster.
Jude Mary Cénat
Psychology Professor at the University of Ottawa, Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Black Health, and Director V-TRAC Lab, Dr. Cénat’s research explores the effects of vulnerability, trauma, resilience; disparities in mental health and social services; and, global mental health.
Spoken Word poet, educator, speaker, and coach who believes that creative wiring and poetry are the therapy of a lifetime.
Project manager, actor, advocate for Black mental health, and cofounder of SOS Congo — a not-for-profit organization advocating for Calgary’s Congolese community.
Social Work Clinician and consultant with the African Nova Scotian community on the of race-based trauma and on issues of parenting, substance use and mental health and prevention based initiatives affecting the lives of adolescence and their families and communities.
Assistant Professor in Health Education and Promotion with the Department of Health and Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
CEO of the Wellesley Institute, practicing psychiatrist, Psychiatry Professor at the University of Toronto, Director of Health Equity at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and international expert on the social causes of illness and the development of effective, equitable social policy and health systems.
Apanaki Temtayo Minerve
Author, spoken word poet, actor, multimedia artist and teacher who works closely with her community as a mental health advocate.
Artist, community organizer, and founder and director of the Vancouver Black Therapy & Advocacy Foundation.
Artist and rapper who denounces not only gender inequality and racial injustice, but also the challenge of living with intimate demons like addiction.
Registered Psychotherapist, Trauma Consultant, and Founding Chair for the Section on Black Psychology of the Canadian Psychological Association who is passionate about promoting positive mental health across communities.
Abstract artist, disability writer, and curator known for her work within the mediums of installation, painting, performance, and photography to challenge systemic oppression against Black women and Trans people, mental health, ageism and intergenerational trauma.
Founder and Director of Pour 3 Points, an organization that trains school coaches in the skills they need to guide the next generation of not only athletes, but activists and system-changers.
Robert S. Wright
Social Worker and Sociologist whose 31-year career has spanned the fields of education, child welfare, forensic mental health, trauma, sexual violence, and cultural competence.
Retired social worker and TV show host and producer who is interested in culturally sensitive health care delivery, policy and program development. She served over 35 years in government and non-government organizations and is a recipient of the “Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Award”.
Organizations across Canada are also doing pioneering work in mental health, including:
Mental health resources are available to support Black communities and serve Black people specifically.
To find a Black therapist or counsellor, check out:
- Across Canada:
- In Winnipeg: Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) Mental Health Worker List
- In Montreal: Black Healing Centre
- In Toronto:
- In Alberta: Alberta Black Therapist Network
- In Vancouver: Vancouver Black Therapy & Advocacy Foundation
To get support now, contact:
Over the last 20 years, the Black population in Canada has doubled in size and there are now close to 1.2 million Black Canadians, representing around 3.5% of the total population. Yet, Black individuals face disproportionately high rates of discrimination and racism. As a result, Black people experience alarming and disproportionate rates of psychological distress, and mental health symptoms and illnesses. For instance, rates of depression amongst Black individuals were found to be six times higher than the general population. A shortage of Black therapists and the high costs of services continue to make it challenging for Black people to access the support they need and deserve. Even finding family physicians – who often serve as a gateway to mental health – is more difficult for Black people in Canada. Plus, a recent study found that over 53% of Black participants experienced significant racism when interacting with healthcare professionals.
While racial discrimination can cause mental health distress, the current system is not well set up to support Black Canadians’ mental health needs. We believe that every person in Canada has the right to free mental health care and substance use health care when they need it. Join us in asking the federal government to Act for Mental Health.
To learn more about Black History Month, check out:
The featured painting is titled Lady Indigo by artist Apanaki Temtayo Minerve.
This article was originally written by CMHA National.