Government of Canada invests $1.5 million to support the mental health of Black communities

News release

Funding is part of a commitment of $100 million to support those most affected by COVID-19.

February 24, 2023 | Toronto, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

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

Today, during Black History Month, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, accompanied by the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, announced close to $1.5 million in funding to support the mental health of Black individuals and communities.

Black Mental Health Canada is receiving $1.1 million for its project to build capacity among clinicians to provide culturally safe and appropriate mental health counselling, and support to Black clients who have experienced racial trauma or race-based traumatic stress. The project will reach mental health clinicians across Canada, including both Black providers treating Black individuals, as well as non-Black providers working in areas with high proportions of Black clientele.

Wanasah: Mental Health Services for Black Youth is receiving $400,000 for its project to develop Black-centric, trauma-responsive community support services in Toronto's Regent Park community. This initiative will take a community-driven participatory approach to the development of culturally-safe, equity-focused mental health services. It will also support Black youth and their families to help prevent and mitigate the impacts of diverse forms of trauma exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic recovery.

Quotes

"Black communities in Canada continue to face many systemic challenges and barriers to mental health care, and our government is committed to addressing them. The projects announced today will create environments for improved mental health outcomes and will ensure that Black individuals and communities across Canada experiencing mental health challenges have access to the most appropriate, culturally relevant supports and services they need, by the most appropriate provider."

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

"The road to recovery is complex for those who have experienced mental health challenges and trauma – especially for people who face social exclusion, marginalization, and stigma. This why our government is proud to support organizations like Black Mental Health Canada and Wanasah to build Black-centric and trauma-responsive services to better serve the mental health needs of these communities."

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

"We are honored and excited to receive funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada to further our mission of promoting mental health and wellness in Black communities. With this funding, we can expand our programs and services to better support the mental health needs of Black Canadians, who have historically faced systemic barriers to accessing appropriate care. Our team at Black Mental Health Canada is committed to working tirelessly to ensure that our communities receive the support they need to thrive, and we thank the Public Health Agency of Canada for their investment in our work."

Alice Wiafe, President
Black Mental Health Canada

"As we all know, Black communities have been subjected to a long history of systemic racism, discrimination, and oppression, which has led to immense trauma, pain, and suffering. This trauma is intergenerational, and it impacts not only individuals but also families, neighborhoods, and entire communities. With a Black Centric and Culturally Relevant trauma program in Regent Park and neighbouring communities, we can help to rebuild trust, restore dignity, and promote a sense of purpose and belonging. This is not just about addressing past trauma but also about building a better future for generations to come."

Namarig Ahmed
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Wanasah: Mental Health Services for Black Youth

Quick facts

  • This announcement is part of a $100 million investment provided in Budget 2021 to support projects that promote mental health and prevent mental illness in populations disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. By making strategic investments that acknowledge the specific challenges faced by equity deserving communities, the Government of Canada can ensure that people get the support they need, when and where they need it.
  • We are committed to supporting the mental health of Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  • On February 7, 2023, the Government of Canada announced that it intends to work collaboratively with provinces and territories on shared health priorities to improve integrated health care for Canadians, including improved access to quality mental health and substance use services.
  • Mental health promotion and mental illness prevention are critical components for well-being and can help reduce demands on the health care system. Community-based projects focussed on mental health promotion have the potential to improve health outcomes over the life course.
  • Renison University College, at the University of Waterloo, is hosting a Knowledge Development and Exchange Hub (KDE Hub) for Mental Health Promotion to support the projects funded through this investment, helping to build a community with shared interests in optimizing mental health promotion and mental illness prevention across Canada.
  • The Wellness Together Canada portal provides free access to educational content, self-guided therapy, moderated peer-to-peer support, and one-to-one counselling with qualified health professionals. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can access the Wellness Together Canada portal, or call 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 741741 (adults) or 686868 (youth).
  • Kids Help Phone is also available 24/7 with e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French.

Associated links

Contacts

Maja Staka
Senior Communications Advisor and Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health
343-552-5568

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Inquiries:
613-957-2991
1-866-225-0709

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