On March 2, 2020 Toronto held its first Black International Mental Health Day (BMHD) with a series of events illuminating the need for systemic change to address the detrimental impact of everyday racism on the mental health of the region’s black population. Many of the issues raised were ones regularly encountered by Toronto’s black injured workers.
Raising awareness of racism and mental health
The In My Black Skin workshop featured Registered Social Worker Leo Edwards on the intergenerational trauma resulting from racism, the need for more culturally appropriate research and more culturally specific research. Police officer Christine Mitchell spoke of relentless harassment that caused her to resign from the workforce, and the impact of everyday microaggressions in the workplace.
Among speakers at Mental Health in the Black Community, a two-hour community meeting organized by University of Toronto’s Black Medical Student Union, Registered Social Worker Donna Alexander (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) focused on the need for culturally centred treatment. This is also an issue that is discussed within the Women of Inspiration group meetings whenever the topic of psychological care comes up. Some women feel that the Eurocentric approach is in direct conflict with how they feel about treatment. For example, the injured workers in the group feel that doctors like to overmedicate. Some of the women in the group say that they would rather go for walks or spend time with family and use mindfulness techniques like meditation. Others mention that they are cautious about reporting psychological injury to their doctors because of the fear of being stigmatized… [read full report]
Community Legal Worker
- Ontario. Legislative Assembly. 2020 Mar. 3. Bill 178, Black Mental Health Day Act, 2020. First reading (introduced by MPPs Bhutila Karpoche & Faisal Hassan)
- Katshunga, Jen, Notisha Massaquoi, Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unity, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. 2020 Feb. “Black Women in Canada.” Behind the Numbers (CCPA)
- CUPE Equality. 2014 Nov. Workplace Harassment and Mental Injuries: Examining Root Causes.
- Mental Health Commission of Canada. “Diversity” (webpage)