Today, the first Monday in March, the University of Toronto recognizes Black Mental Health Day.
Established through a partnership between the City of Toronto and TAIBU Community Health Centre, this day highlights the impacts of anti-Black racism on mental health in Toronto’s Black communities—and in Canada more broadly—and encourages systemic change. To mark the inaugural Black Mental Health Day in March 2020, the TAIBU Community Health Centre shared interviews with staff and volunteers who identified key barriers to mental health diagnosis and treatment experienced by Black Canadians. These barriers reflect the complex and insidious ways in which anti-Black racism finds expression in our society. They include a lack of culture-appropriate care and challenges accessing education, legal services, employment, and housing. They also encompass intercultural issues, such as stigmas around mental health and a lack of trust in dominant “systems.”
In the intervening years, the City of Toronto Board of Health declared anti-Black racism a public health crisis. Systemic anti-Black racism has compounded the effects of the pandemic upon Black Canadians, and will most certainly challenge efforts at pandemic recovery. In 2022, Black Mental Health Day continues to be a necessary call for systemic change.
The University of Toronto condemns anti-Black racism and recognizes the impact it has on the physical and mental health of Black communities. We are committed to offering initiatives and programming that support the mental health and well-being of Black-identifying students, staff, faculty, and librarians. The Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office (ARCDO) maintains an ongoing partnership with the Hill Studio’s Restore Program to provide spaces for Black and racialized members of our community to address the impacts of racism and engage in restorative activities and dialogue. Later this month, U of T will also join with Statistics Canada and signatories of the Scarborough Charter to explore data collection strategies, an important step in actioning our larger commitments to the Anti-Black Racism Task Force Report. Meaningful data will provide a solid foundation for institution-wide efforts to validate and promote Black excellence through all our activities, from governance, research, and community engagement to teaching and learning.
I urge all students, staff, faculty, and librarians to consider your role in supporting systemic change at U of T and in advocating for improved access to mental health services and supports for Black Canadians. I also encourage any members of the Black community at U of T requiring support to reach out to the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office or the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion offices at the University of Toronto Scarborough and the University of Toronto Mississauga. Additional supports are listed below.
For staff, faculty, and librarians
Supportive networks for staff include the tri-campus affinity group Connections & Conversations
Available through the Student Life Health and Wellness programs for Mental Health and the U of T My Student Support Program (U of T My SSP). U of T My SSP is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the app or call.
(Outside of North America) 001-416-380-6578