Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Windsor-Essex County Branch joins Ontarians in recognizing Monday, March 6 as Black Mental Health Day to help raise awareness of historic inequities and unequal outcomes in the mental health and addictions system that continue to persist today.
In March 2020, the provincial government passed Bill 178, Black Mental Health Day Act, 2020, to proclaim the first Monday in March annually as Black Mental Health Day. The intention of this day is to recognize the ongoing mental health impact of anti-Black racism in public services, and to raise awareness of the specific mental health needs of Black communities across Ontario.
Black individuals are often impacted by microaggression, racism, discrimination and inequity, which can affect psychological well-being and increase their risk of mental illness. In addition, Black individuals face a number of barriers when it comes to accessing care, including increased wait times and simply finding a Black mental health professional who can relate to their experience or understand their point of view. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Black Canadians are also more likely to experience challenges in finding family physicians, who often serve as an important gateway to mental health care.
These experiences, as well as the absence of culturally-appropriate services and resources that specifically support Black communities within Canada, result in many people struggling alone and in silence.