Backgrounder: Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund


September 2020

The Government of Canada has committed $19 million to enhance local community supports for youth at risk and support more culturally focused mental health programs for Black Canadians.

As part of this investment, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is confirming today $4.9 million for projects through the Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund (MHBC) to better support the mental health and well-being of Black Canadians.

The MHBC fund includes two funding streams:

  • The Implementation Stream provides funding to recipients for community-led projects that implement and evaluate culturally focused programs that promote mental health and address its causes for Black Canadians.
  • The Incubator Stream provides short-term funding to support capacity‑building activities that will help organizations design, develop, implement and evaluate projects that promote mental health for Black Canadians.

To date, eight projects funded under the Incubator stream have increased their capacity and readiness to design, develop, implement, and evaluate culturally focused programs that promote mental health and address its determinants for Black Canadians. Eight projects funded under the Implementation stream are reaching diverse Black communities in a range of settings across Canada and are delivering mental health interventions.

Implementation Stream
Projects announced today receiving funding through the Implementation Stream include:

University of Ottawa (Department of Psychology)
Project Title: Santé mentale des communautés noires dans la Région de la Capitale Nationale : Évaluation, outils de prévention et d’intervention
PHAC funding: $799,265 over 4 years

This project aims to better understand and support the mental health needs of Black youth and their families from both French and English communities in the National Capital Region. Research on the prevalence of mental illness in these communities, the underlying causes and the current patterns of use of services will inform the development of resources and supports currently lacking for this population. The project will develop education and awareness materials, as well as tools to support the communities’ and mental health practitioners’ needs.

TAIBU Community Health Centre
Project Title: The IMARA Generation Peer Leadership
PHAC funding: $800,000 over 3.5 years

Through this project, the TAIBU Community Health Centre will collaborate with Black youth to co-develop a youth focused, culturally appropriate mental health awareness and support program. The program will be delivered through community organizations in the Greater Toronto Area that serve Black youth. It will engage the families of Black youth to teach them about positive parenting and mentorship and their influence on mental health.

The project will align with TAIBU’s recently developed and adapted Model of Black Health and Well-being, as well as the Afrocentric principles of self-determination, collective work and responsibility, and unity.

Black Health Alliance
Project Title: Pathways to Care: Improving Mental Health and Addictions Services for Black Children, Youth and their Families in Ontario
PHAC funding: $785,978 over 3.5 years

The Pathways to Care project aims to implement and evaluate a culturally focused initiative that will address barriers to mental health and addictions services for children and families in both Anglophone and Francophone communities in Ontario. The project will influence system changes and build capacity for a mental health and addictions sector that provides timely and culturally safe services to Black children and their families.

Resources and tools for health and social services organizations and families will be developed to support the initiative, including workshops, webinars and web and mobile apps. The project will also increase knowledge on social factors that can contribute to inequities in mental health and access to services, including poverty and income security, experiences of anti-Black racism, stigma, and capacity of parents and caregivers to recognize and respond to mental health issues. The project will build on an existing project that is focused on Black youth aged 12 to 29 years of age.

The project will be implemented in multiple cities in Ontario, including London, Windsor, Durham, Kitchener/Waterloo, Ottawa and Toronto.

Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health Centre
Project Title: African, Caribbean and Black Women Living Life to the Full: Peer Based Mental Health Promotion Initiative for African Caribbean and Black Women
PHAC funding: $793,301 over 3.5 years

The project will test and adapt the Living Life to the Full (LLTTF) Course, a group-based interactive course based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This course will be adapted to be women-centred, adopt an anti-oppressive approach, and address the unique determinants of health for African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) women in a culturally appropriate way.

The project will focus on hard-to-serve and marginalized ACB women, which will include newcomers, immigrants, refugees, women on low incomes, women with complex health and mental health issues, youth and members of the LGBTQ2+ communities. The project will respond to a research study conducted by the applicants that identified several barriers to mental health specific to ACB women, including stigma, distrust of services and lack of cultural competence in service providers.

The peer-based model that is the basis of the project has been proven to be effective in the promotion of mental health because it leverages interpersonal relationships and embodies person-centred principles of patient choice and empowerment, shared decision-making, cultural competency and strengths-based problem-solving.

The project will take place in multiple cities in Ontario, with a focus on Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Windsor.

Black Creek Community Health Centre
Project Title: Jane and Finch Wellness Advocates for Youth (WAY), Toronto
PHAC funding: $399,916 over 2 years

The Jane and Finch WAY project will research, implement and evaluate interventions for supporting hard-to-reach Black youth and improving their mental health outcomes. The project will build on the strength and resiliency of the community. The primary target population of the project is hard-to-reach Black youth in the Jane and Finch area of Toronto. A cohort of youth will directly take part in pilot testing of targeted interventions. The project will also deliver interventions and activities for families, social service organizations and the broader youth community.

Head and Hands/À deux Mains
Project Title: STAY (Storytelling, Training, Advocacy and Youth Drop-in) Program, Montréal
PHAC funding: $299,491 over 3 years

The STAY project in Montréal, Quebec, will develop a series of programs to build the capacity of youth and youth in child welfare or protective services (i.e., “youth in care”) to express themselves and advocate for themselves on issues related to mental well-being, while also working to train community workers to better serve these youth. The project will improve the mental health and well-being of Black youth by developing their skills and knowledge around their own mental health needs and creating safe spaces for peer support and social inclusion. As well, the project aims to improve the social environment and service provision for marginalized Black youth by sensitizing organizations that interact with marginalized Black youth to their needs and decreasing stigma.

Barbados Association of Winnipeg Inc.
Project Title: Towards Positive Change to Promote Mental Health and Well-being for Black Canadians in Winnipeg
PHAC funding: $399,995 over 2 years

The project aims to develop a culturally appropriate toolkit for mental health promotion and equity, based on community engagement. The project will research existing mental health promotion tools. The selected model will be adapted to be culturally appropriate for Black Canadians. The ultimate goal is that the toolkit is integrated by organizations serving Black communities located in Winnipeg, in Manitoba and, potentially, across Canada. The target audience for the toolkit is the approximately 40 organizations serving Black communities in Manitoba. The toolkit will address issues and topics relevant to a range of Black Canadian populations that organizations may be serving, including youth, adults, seniors and newcomers.

Council for the Advancement of African Canadians (Africa Centre)
Project Title: ArTeMo Project, Alberta
PHAC funding: $400,000 over 3 years

The project will develop and test a suite of culturally informed interventions for Black Canadian youth, particularly those in marginalized situations. The project will increase knowledge on addressing mental health and its determinants through programs that connect youth to their culture, create a sense of belonging and identity and enhance empowerment.

The project will also include activities for organizations that provide services to at-risk Black youth such as health care, social services and law information to increase cultural competency of these organizations and facilitate access to services. The project will principally target Black Canadian youth; particularly those facing social and economic barriers such as homelessness, pre-existing mental health conditions or diverse sexual orientation or identities in Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray, Alberta. The project will also target newcomer and refugee families with youth from war-torn countries.

Incubator Stream
Projects announced today receiving funding through the Incubator Stream include:

Événement Hoodstock
Project Title: Justice alternative et réparatrice pour et par les communautés noires de Montréal-Nord
PHAC funding: $75,000 over 1 year

This project will look at the impacts of criminalization and mental health within the Montréal North Black community, with a particular focus on youth and their families. The project will establish partnerships and answer research questions that will help the design and development of a longer-term implementation project focused on alternative justice models to help improve the overall mental health of Black Canadians in the community. Événement Hoodstock will conduct in-depth field research to identify best practices and develop culturally adapted prevention approaches. Research will be conducted through a literature review and interviews with victims, ex-offenders and families.

Maison de jeune L’Ouverture and Regroupement des intervenant(e)s d’origine haïtienne (RIIOH)
Project Title: Croyances culturelles et santé mentale
PHAC funding: $75,000 over 1 year

This project seeks to better understand and address the barriers faced by Black communities in Montréal North in accessing mental health services. This initiative will promote positive mental health and raise awareness around mental health challenges to reduce stigma related to the use of and access to mental health services. The project, which focuses on youth and their families, will bring together experts to form an advisory committee, establish partnerships with community organizations and develop support groups.

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
Project Title: Santé mentale des étudiants, chercheurs et intellectuels afro-canadiens
PHAC funding: $75,000 over 1 year

This project aims to build the foundation for a pan-Canadian network of African-Canadian post-secondary students, researchers and academics. The project will research and analyze the impacts of racism in academia on the mental health of students, researchers and academics. Culturally appropriate interventions to address these challenges will be identified and an interface between researchers working on issues affecting Black academics’ mental health and community stakeholders will be created.

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