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Toronto recognises Black Mental Health Day


TORONTO, March 1, 2020- On March 2, the City of Toronto will recognize the first Black Mental Health Day. The day will highlight the current Toronto For All campaign, which focuses on the impact that anti-Black racism has on mental health and is a call to action for more support and access to culturally-responsive mental health services and programs for Black residents. 

Anti-Black racism is a historic, pervasive, and systemic issue in Toronto – affecting the life chances of more than 400,000 people of African descent who call Toronto home. Experiencing systemic discrimination and microaggressions are social stressors that increase the risk of negative physical and mental health including anxiety, depression, suicide or suicidal thoughts, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, high blood pressure and premature mortality. 

A day dedicated to Black mental health will shed light on and encourage a deeper social commitment to addressing the profound and systemic harms of anti-Black racism on the mental health of Black Torontonians. An annual day to confront anti-Black racism’s negative impact on mental health in Black communities is only the first step, but an important one to rally people to take action. This action can take many forms, for instance: 

• seeking help for mental health care or encouraging someone else to do so 
• supporting organizations or institutions to adopt a plan for increasing accessibility to culturally-responsive mental health supports 
• inspiring community-led activations that advance existing mental health resources within the community and acknowledge the need for more  
• sharing personal stories so others know that they are not alone. 

Several featured and community-led events are scheduled to take place on March 2 that are designed to drive productive dialogue and to acknowledge the need for systemic change. 

The City has partnered with TAIBU Community Health Centre, a non-for-profit, community-led organization that serves the Black Community across the Greater Toronto Area, and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to present a Facebook LIVE panel discussion exploring the relationships between mental health in Black communities and anti-Black racism.  

The panel will include Jully Black (Canadian singer-songwriter, producer and actress), Celina Caesar-Chavannes (former Independent Member of Parliament), Tatiana Ferguson (advocate for trans and queer Black, Indigenous People of Colour), Notisha Massaquoi, (community advocate) and Kwame McKenzie (CEO of the Wellesley Institute). All Torontonians are welcome to join in, share their thoughts and ask questions:  

The City has also partnered with other community groups to present:  

• a community celebration to mark the day and a healing circle organized by TAIBU 
• an open mic night organized by Reaching Intelligent Souls Everywhere (R.I.S.E.)  
• an event for Black youth to engage with food, explore healthy mental health practices organized by FoodShare and Toronto Youth Food Policy Council 
• a session on the impact of anti-Black racism and Islamophobia towards the Somali community organized by Positive Change Initiative TO 
• an event for Black Francophone youth with guest speakers and music performance  

Location and timing of the events scheduled for the day can be found on the Black Mental Health Day website at blackmentalhealthday.ca

Toronto For All is a public education initiative to generate dialogue among Toronto residents in order to create a city that says “no” to all forms of discrimination and racism, including systemic racism. Information and resources to educate Torontonians about the effects of anti-Black racism on mental health are available on the Toronto For All web page at toronto.ca/community-people/get-involved/community/toronto-for-all

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