The first Monday in March marks Black Mental Health Day. It’s important to understand mental health with a Black health lens. Black communities continue to face poor health outcomes, limited access to services and inequitable treatment while trying to get healthcare.
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says there is no question that anti-Black racism and discrimination affects the health outcomes of members of the Black community, made worse by the added stress of the pandemic.
“This is why I strongly support the work of community organizations that specialize in Black mental health, and commend their efforts to ensure that a Black person’s entire experience is taken seriously by the healthcare system and by society at large. We must applaud their determination to use this day to create awareness and to provide a platform to have important dialogues,” said Thomas.
Cultural, social and personal factors impact one’s ability to identify mental health issues, seek help for mental health issues and receive treatment.
“When we recognize Black Mental Health Day, we acknowledge that health realities are very different when you factor in race.”
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eddy Almeida says it’s imperative to take note of the message behind Black Mental Health Day.
“This day is important because it helps us understand that many people do not have the same access to services others take for granted,” said Almeida. “OPSEU/SEFPO stands in solidarity with the Black community in continuing to remove barriers to accessing the best health care possible.”
“Many members of the Black community continue to struggle silently with their mental health while facing discrimination and the impacts of traumas. Too often, Black people fall through the cracks and are not taken seriously while dealing with health issues because of their skin colour. Black Mental Health Day is an opportunity for us to raise awareness but also push for changes in our healthcare to address these inequities,” said OPSEU/SEFPO’s Chair of the Coalition of Racialized Workers (CoRW) Peter Thompson.
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