This February, CMHA Durham along with many other Canadians, will be honouring Black Canadians for Black History Month. We recognize and celebrate their achievements and reflect on their successes, sacrifices and triumphs.
Black Canadians and their communities have shaped Canada’s heritage in several ways. The month of February is an opportunity to learn more about these important contributions and to applaud the continued achievements of Black Canadians in our communities.
Alongside this recognition, it’s also important to acknowledge the ongoing long-standing health inequities that research has shown to disproportionately impact communities of colour, specifically Black ones. Issues such as racism, sexism, inadequate housing, and other social determinants of health can serve as barriers for Black Canadians to be able to access mental health and addictions support. Recent studies have also shown the many ways in which experiences with racism can hurt a person’s chances at stable employment, a better income, and improved mental health.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada:
- Black persons in Canada are more likely to experience challenges in finding family physicians, who often serve as an important gateway to mental health care
- Among Black-Caribbean populations, wait times for mental health care averaged 16 months, more than twice of the wait for participants of white European descent (which averaged seven months)
- Despite the higher prevalence of mental illness found in low-income areas (where Black populations disproportionally reside), these communities often have fewer mental health programs and services.
For more information on these health inequities, visit the Black Health Alliance website.
Interested in learning more for Black History Month? Check out these provincial organizations.