Black Mental Health Week 2023
Now in its 4th year, the City of Toronto has proclaimed March 6 to 12, Black Mental Health Week. Recognizing this week shines a light on the mental health challenges of Black Torontonians. Years of institutional, systemic and anti-Black racism have affected the mental health of many in the Black community. Societal stigma and financial disparities are a few of the reasons why Black people are less likely to seek mental health support from medical professionals.
Although more Black celebrities and athletes, like Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and Simone Biles, have opened up about their mental health challenges, many Black people still suffer in a culture of silence. Recently, Duane Notice, a Canadian basketball player in the National League, shared about his mental health challenges after he sustained a serious injury.
Studies show that women experience depression at rates twice that of men but are less likely to seek mental health care. Black women amplify this discrepancy by being less likely to seek care when compared to white women. In addition to the daily pressures that women feel in general, Black women may also be affected by societal challenges brought on by racial inequities.
The February 2023 Toronto’s Population Health Profile: Insight on the Health of our City reveals that Black Canadians reported poorer self-rated mental health and greater financial insecurity compared with white Canadians, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 32% of Black respondents, compared to 24% of White respondents, reported moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder symptoms just two weeks prior to completing the survey.
Former First Lady, Michelle Obama shared that she suffered from low-grade depression due to the Covid-19 pandemic, racial tensions in the United States, and the political divide. Award-winning actress, Taraji P. Henson also shared openly about the myth of the Strong Black Woman and how that label encourages Black women to suffer quietly and hide away any weaknesses. Grammy-award winner, Michelle Williams shared candidly about her battle with depression in her memoir, Checking In: how getting real about depression saved my life-and can save yours.
Taking care of our mental health is important. Read, share and seek professional help as needed. This blog post is not here to advise but rather to share that you are not alone. Check out our Black Mental Health Reading List and Anti-Black Racism & Mental Health Resources from the City of Toronto to support you on your journey of healing.
Homecoming : Overcome Fear and Trauma to Reclaim Your Whole, Authentic Self by Thema Bryant
"In the aftermath of stress, disappointment, and trauma, people often fall into survival mode, even while a part of them longs for more. Juggling multiple demands and responsibilities keeps them busy, but not healed. As a survivor of sexual assault, racism, and evacuation from a civil war in Liberia, Dr. Bryant knows intimately the work involved in healing. Having made the journey herself, in addition to guiding others as a clinical psychologist and ordained minister, Dr. Bryant shows you how to reconnect with your authentic self and reclaim your time, your voice, your life." -from publisher's description
The Pain We Carry: Healing from Complex PTSD for People of Color by Natalie Y. Gutiérrez
"If you are a person of color who has experienced repeated trauma—such as discrimination, race-related verbal assault, racial stigmatization, poverty, sexual trauma, or interpersonal violence—you may struggle with intense feelings of anger, mistrust, or shame. You may feel unsafe or uncomfortable in your own body, or struggle with building and keeping close relationships. Sometimes you may feel very alone in your pain. But you are not alone. This groundbreaking work illuminates the phenomena of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) as it is uniquely experienced by people of color, and provides a much-needed path to health and wholeness." - from publisher's description
Black Fathering and Mental Health by Dr. Michael Hannon (author/editor)
"Dr. Michael Hannon has convened a group of Black fathers and aspiring fathers, who are also professional counselors, and they offer unique and untapped perspectives about the needs, challenges, and victories of Black fathering across the family life cycle in the context of an anti-Black world. In each chapter, the contributors offer counselors and other mental health professionals a resource to assist them in providing culturally relevant and responsive support to Black fathers at various points across the family life cycle and more comprehensively understand the circumstances that might prompt—and prevent—Black fathers to seek counseling support." -from publisher's description
My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem
"In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology. The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. Menakem argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies." - from publisher's description
Hear from an expert
Tune into our online event, Culturally Appropriate Mental Health, on Tuesday, March 7 at 7 pm with David Grant, to learn about common mental illnesses caused by racism, conflict in our relationships and biology. David is a registered social worker with a Master of Social Work and specialized knowledge in psychiatric illnesses including addictions, children and family welfare, particularly for Black people of the African Diaspora. A recording will be available after the events via Crowdcast.