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Black Mental Health Matters Now And Always

Black mental wellness is a neglected but vital issue, especially amidst the uncertainty and hostility engulfing the world today. Multicultural therapy and therapy specifically for Black men and women are needed so they can get the attention they deserve.

Dealing with the rigours of anti-Black racism and cultural stereotypes can adversely affect the mental health of Black people. Culturally responsive therapists are an important component of Black mental health. They can relate to the issues of the Black community and so work in their clients’ best interests to give them the support they need.

Culturally Responsive Therapists Make a Significant Difference

Therapy for Black men should involve culturally responsive therapists like this one

Therapy for Black men should involve culturally responsive therapists like this one

Effective therapy depends so much on empathy and a deep understanding between the client and the therapist, especially since a stigma has long existed regarding therapy. Often, Black people have a negative perception of therapy because many therapists have brought their unconscious biases and privilege to bear in their work.

Considering that people in Toronto with Caribbean or African origin have a 60% increased risk for psychosis and face daily stresses related to being Black, it is vital for this community to have access to mental health professionals who can say “I’ve been there,” and offer useful guidance.

Culturally responsive therapists are valuable because they

  • offer help that’s relevant to the social and cultural background of their clients.

  • shift from individualistic Western paradigms of mental health rooted in theories from biology and other sciences to explain illnesses.

  • are aware of the sociopolitical landscape.

  • understand cultural values.

  • aren’t restricted by conventional counselling methods, for example, in some cases, culturally responsive therapists use tools, such as therapy cards that contain therapeutic strategies for Black women, giving them useful coping skills and tips.

Culturally responsive therapists help Black men and women to find healthy ways to counter issues of racism, microaggressions, and depression.

Encouraging Conversation

Conversation about the stigma of Black mental health is needed to progress

A conversation about the stigma of Black mental health is needed to progress

Although the availability of culturally competent therapists will help to change the stigma surrounding therapy to some extent, the community also needs to have a greater understanding of what therapy is and how it can help.

Stacy-Ann Buchanan, the creator of the award-winning Black mental health documentary, The Blind Stigma, knows this all too well. Growing up in a Jamaican household, she felt ashamed to talk about mental health with her parents, who would often tell her she could pray her feelings away. A cultural barrier to mental health includes pushing religion and denouncing therapy as an option. This has been a generational issue and one that has prevented many people from seeking help. Through Buchanan’s platform, she has encouraged many Black people to remove the veil of shame and be open about Black mental wellness.

Positive Steps Are Being Taken

Steps are being taken to prioritize Black mental wellness in Toronto. The City Of Toronto partnered with TAIBU Community Health Centre in 2020 to highlight how racism has impacted mental health throughout the GTA. The city also declared March 2 as Black Mental Health Day, which was expanded to a week in 2021, to raise greater awareness of the effect of racism on Black communities and families.

Also, members of the local Black community can voice their feelings and frustrations constructively through the Black Health Alliance in North York and Black Mental Health Canada. Both offer services to low-income individuals in need of affordable education and mental health support.

More outlets than ever are widely available for Black people to speak out about their mental health struggles. Therapy For Black Girls is one such example, celebrating strong Black women who are adamant about destigmatizing mental health issues and embracing their strength. Other culturally competent therapy sources or search portals you can try include:

These steps addressing community needs are important, but more work also must be done in the workplace where barriers and stress faced by Black people are significant. Affording Black employees culturally responsive therapy can make a lot of difference, especially when you consider that there’s a lack of insurance for this type of need. Employees would have someone to trust with their problems at work, leading to an improvement in well-being and productivity.

Tough conversations on Black mental health and multicultural therapy are needed to improve the well-being and productivity of Black employees in the workplace. Inquire about a custom Tough Convo for your team.


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