In the Black community there is a negative stigma surrounding mental health. Instead of seeking professional help for conditions such as depression and anxiety some people in the community resort to self-medication (drugs, opioids, alcohol, etc.) or isolation in an attempt to solve their problems on their own. This issue of masking pain is especially prevalent amongst Black men.
Partnering with the Somerset West Community Health Centre, ACAO continues to deliver on our mandate to ensure total health including mental health for people of African descent in the National Capital Region.
Mental health in the black community continues to be an issue and given the trend it is going to be for a long time. We have cultural, religious, and racial interplay that often stifle people’s initiative to seek help. Since its inception, ACAO has been at the forefront advocating for better health outcomes for the black communities here in Ottawa and Canada. There are several activities we pursue to realize the goals of our mental health program.
ACB Mental Health Awareness Workshop Series
ACAO partnered with Somerset West Community Health Centre to deliver these workshops aimed at promoting behaviour change through education and support as well as to normalize the conversation around mental health. The goal was also to empower parents to help their kids deal with the effects of the pandemic related lockdowns.
Joy Workshop Series: Addressing Mental Health through Art Therapy
This 12 – week cohort workshop series was designed to help people going through severe mental health crisis to find joy and friendship through art. This was delivered by professional Art Therapists and Social workers. The pilot virtual program was so successful that we want to duplicate it in person at our new office facility at 40 Colonnade Rd N or at one of our partner locations.
Money and Mental Health Series
ACAO delivered monthly workshops on the relationship between personal and household finance and mental health. People learned how money and mental health are related. Solving for money is a sure way of reducing family stressors that result in profound health, emotional and psychological issues. Over 2,250 people attended this workshop series.
Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition (OBMHC)
ACAO is a founding member of OBMHC. The Coalition currently has 19 members including SWCHC, Ottawa Public Health, Centre Le Cap, CESOC, REPFO, and others. The coalition is working towards the development of a Regional Mental Health strategy for the African, Caribbean, Black community in Ottawa. The goal is to achieve a more equitable mental health system by improving access to culturally appropriate mental health supports and resources offering healthier outcomes for Black residents in Ottawa. ACAO sits on the leadership table and participates in the Mental Health Awareness and Support committee. As a coalition, we become the go to place for policy leaders and community partners. The coalition has participated in many roundtables and delivered many systemwide solutions.
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