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Shining A Light On Mental Health In Black Communities

Quick Stats

  • 38.3% of Black Canadian residents with poor or fair self-reported mental health used mental health services compared with 50.8% White Canadian residents (between 2001 and 2014).
  • Based on a 2018 survey of 328 Black Canadian residents
    • 60% said they would be more willing to use mental health services if the mental health professional were Black
    • 35.4% were experiencing significant psychological distress, 34.2% of whom never sought mental health services
    • 95.1% felt that the underutilization of mental health services by Black Canadian residents was an issue that needed to be addressed

COVID-19

  • According to a 2020 Statistics Canada survey, for most measures of mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, participants from the Black visible-minority group reported poorer self-rated mental health and greater financial insecurity compared with White participants.
  • 27.9% of Black visible-minority respondents, compared to 22.9% of White respondents, reported fair/poor self-rated mental health.
  • 32% of Black visible-minority respondents, compared to 24.2% of White respondents, reported symptoms consistent with moderate/severe generalized anxiety disorder in the two weeks prior to completing the survey.
  • 37.5% of Black visible-minority respondents, compared to 22.1% of White respondents, reported COVID-19-related financial insecurity.

Barriers to Care

SYSTEMIC INEQUITY

Historically, the Black community has been placed at a disadvantage when it comes to their mental health, given their subjection to trauma through enslavement, oppression, colonialism, racism, and segregation, much of which extends to the experience of mental health care inequity today.

  • Black persons in Canada have higher unemployment rates, as well as lower average incomes, which may preclude them from the wider selection of mental health services available to those able to pay privately or go through employer-covered insurance plans.
  • 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 those for Whites (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.

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