Government of Canada supports mental health programs for Black Canadians

News release

Increasing knowledge, raising awareness and building capacity

February 10, 2022  |  Toronto, ON  |   Public Health Agency of Canada

While many people in Canada struggle with their mental health, certain groups face unique challenges when it comes to mental health because of systemic racism, discrimination, socio-economic status or social exclusion. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally impacted and exacerbated the mental health within these equity deserving communities.

Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Associate Minister of Health, announced an investment of $800,000 for two projects addressing mental health supports for Black Canadians. Both projects demonstrate a commitment to increasing knowledge of mental health and the inequalities and social determinants of health in Black communities. This knowledge will support building capacity for developing effective, culturally-focused approaches to mental health.

The Harriet Tubman Institute at York University is receiving $400,000 to analyze racism in academia, study the mental health of Black university students, and develop relevant tools to support university students from Black communities. To support this, the project will implement an applied research program that brings together the expertise of public social and health community services and the university environment where Black students study. By focusing on the needs of communities and on equity towards the target audience, this project is part of an approach to fight anti-Black racism and its expressions in our post-secondary institutions.

Located in the Greater Toronto Area, the TAIBU Community Health Centre is receiving $400,000 to develop a national knowledge network in support of the Government of Canada's Mental Health of Black Canadians (MHBC) Fund. By developing a central space for knowledge sharing, the project will build capacity within Black communities by increasing knowledge of mental health, the inequalities and social determinants of health, and culturally responsive approaches. This project will work to improve the awareness of an Afrocentric perspective; and create positive change in policies and practices that impact the mental health and wellbeing of Black Canadians.


“There are clear systemic challenges and barriers faced by Black communities in Canada, and our government is working to address them. Both projects announced today will not only increase knowledge of mental health and the social determinants of health in Black communities, but also increase awareness of the need for effective, culturally-focused approaches to mental health. By building capacity at the community level across Canada, these projects will help to provide the resources necessary for Black Canadians experiencing mental health issues to have access to the appropriate supports, by the most appropriate provider.

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health.

“The long-standing and limited access of Black communities to mental health supports is an issue that requires our immediate attention - especially within the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The projects announced today will help strengthen mental health supports for Black Canadians and Black Canadian youth, while creating supportive environments for positive mental health outcomes.”

The Honourable Marci Ien
Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth

“Health outcome differences exist and are a function of characteristics such as gender, race, class and ability. This reality calls for a transformation of the "one-size-fits-all" approach through health equity frameworks. I am grateful to lead a pan-Canadian project that promotes the mental health of Black students and develops knowledge about their social determinants of health. By promoting their mental health, the MHBC program will reinforce their participation for a more inclusive country where the current and next generations will be able to flourish.”

Dr. Agnès Berthelot-Raffard
Assistant Professor, School of Health Policy and Management, and Executive Committee member, The Harriet Tubman Institute, York University

“TAIBU recognizes the commitment of the Government of Canada in addressing the impact of anti-Black racism on the mental health and wellbeing of Black Canadians. We are excited to be working with all the agencies that are part of the Promoting of Healthy Equity, Mental Health of Black Canadians initiative in building a knowledge mobilization network that will become essential in influencing policies and practices when supporting members of the Black communities. Knowledge is Power and so will be our unique project that will be founded on Afrocentric ways of knowledge development, synthesis and mobilization. Amandla Olwazi! (Power of knowledge!) “

Liben Gebremikael
Executive Director, TAIBU Community Health Centre

Quick facts

  • Funding announced today has been distributed through the Public Health Agency of Canada's Promoting Health Equity: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund. Investments through the MHBC support community-based programs in mental health promotion to increase health equity and address the underlying determinants of health.

  • The social determinants of health represent the broad social and economic factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.

  • The Harriet Tubman Institute is an interdisciplinary research center within York University, dedicated to Africa and its diasporas. The Harriet Tubman Institute is committed to promote a better understanding of the trajectory of Black peoples in Africa and all over the world.

  • TAIBU Community Health Centre provides primary health care and related services for Black populations across the Greater Toronto Area. Services are delivered through intersectional, equity-based and culturally affirming practices which promote holistic wellness, health education and prevention.

Associated links


Maja Staka
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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