On March 6, 2023, the University of Toronto marks Black Mental Health Day, an initiative launched by the City of Toronto and TAIBU Community Health in 2020.
Recognized immediately following Black History Month—on the first Monday in March—Black Mental Health Day encourages conversations within Black communities about mental health, attempting to reduce stigma and highlight supportive pathways. The day also raises awareness beyond Black communities, identifying the devastating impacts of anti-Black racism and encouraging all Canadians to actively address anti-Black racism however and wherever they can.
Black Mental Health Day may ultimately drive legislative change as well. The bill proposing an Ontario-wide day of recognition—currently under review—calls for important amendments to the Anti-Racism Act, 2017 and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Act. Requiring the collection of race-based data in Ontario healthcare settings and the provision of health services “in a culturally appropriate manner,” both amendments could have a lasting impact on the quality of healthcare that Black Ontarians receive and improve health outcomes in Black communities.
Across the University of Toronto, members of our community are actively working to address systemic barriers and ensure that new generations of health professionals have the background and tools to provide culturally appropriate care. Ongoing programming such as the Reflect. Restore. Action. series (offered by the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office in collaboration with community partners) provides spaces for Black and racialized members of our community to address the impacts of racism and engage in restorative activities and dialogue. The principles of the Scarborough Charter on Anti-Black Racism and Black Inclusion in Canadian Higher Education and recommendations of the Anti-Black Racism Task Force Final Report inform tri-campus efforts to dismantle structural barriers embedded in our policies, curricula, and practices.
Black Mental Health Day reminds us that together, we can do so much more. In your roles as students, faculty, librarians, and staff, please consider how you can support our institutional efforts as well as broader strategies to improve access to mental health services and supports for Black Canadians.
Events & Training
Celebrating Black Excellence: Addressing Wellness and Finance
March 15, 12:00 – 2:00 pm
Davis 3140 (UTM Room), UTM Campus
The Equity, Diversion & Inclusion Office at UTM, Centre for Student Engagement, and Career Centre present “Celebrating Black Excellence: Addressing Wellness and Finance.” Join us as Asante Haughton and Jamie Sodhi share their stories and their lived experience to provide critical advice to students. They will share real-life challenges and implications that one faces in the workplace and academia because of one’s skin colour, ethnicity, country of origin, cultural or religious beliefs, gender, sexual orientation, and accents—offering tools and strategies to navigate those challenges. As a participant, you will have the opportunity to learn and reflect on strategies to manage your wellness and finance. Lunch will be provided.
Black Disability Histories: Reflections, Narratives, Futures with the Youth Alliance for Intersectional Justice
For all members of the UTSC and external communities.
March 16, 2:00 – 3.30 pm
The HUB (Highland Hall), UTSC campus
Hosted by the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office at UTSC and led by youth who are “intimately knowledgeable about life at the intersections” (YAIJ), at this event you will hear youth-centred perspectives on navigating education by young people who experience firsthand the experiences of disability and racialization. Recognizing that neurodiversity can be understood through an assets-based perspective, this informal conversation will showcase sensitivity as strength.
If you are interested in learning more about Black Disability History, BIPOC Resistance, and intentional inclusion on campus, join us at this event. You will learn more about how to meaningfully cultivate spaces that welcome neurodiverse and racialized youth in a way that reaches beyond accommodation.
Dismantling Anti-Black Racism in Post-Secondary Environments
For all members of the U of T community.
Sessions on March 28, 2023 and May 4, 2023, 1 – 4 pm
Facilitated by: Dr. Joseph Smith, Educator, Community Worker and Researcher
- Discuss and learn about the historical context of racism and its present-day impacts for Black community in Canada;
- Understand and discuss the fluidity of anti-Black racism and its manifestations (within systems, institutions, and individual experiences);
- Identify and unpack organizational and systemic barriers that can impact Black community from being included in post-secondary environments;
- Share strategies and tools to break the cycle of anti-Black racism and create more inclusive working and learning environments
For additional training opportunities and events, visit the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity website.