Identifying the Problem
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.
What We Do
We deliver mental health education and outreach for the black community. The pandemic and systemic issues have combined to present serious mental health challenges to the black community. Our workshops and education and support have been critical in these moments.
Workshops & Services
Healing Circles and 1-on-1 Sessions
Both the healing circles and personalized individual (one on one) mental health services were great successes. Indeed members of the community have found these services to be much needed, useful, and helpful.
Individual 1 – on – 1
A total of 80 community members had regular access to professional individualized mental health support. 87% of the people who use this free service are black women. 8.7% are black men and 4.3% are people who identify as nonbinary.
ACAO planned and hosted healing circles with members of the community in person and online. We had to move some of our healing circles online to ensure the safety of all participants and to allow more people to share and exchange with one another. The healing circles included youth, teenagers, adults, and elders in the community. Members of the community expressed their gratitude for creating such a needed space. These discussions were extremely insightful and helpful for many participants. We have received very great feedback from participants and we strongly believe that the community needs more healing circles like this. All COVID-19 measures were respected for the Healing circles that were held in person.
We are hoping to secure funding in 2022 to continue this important program.
We need more mental health specialists for members of the community. Furthermore, the mental health specialists’ fees are high and are currently allowing us to offer limited sessions. We currently have 35 members on our waitlist.
Members of the community need multiple sessions with mental health specialists to ensure a good result. This is a challenge that we are trying to address.
Another challenge for the Healing Circles is the pandemic. We have to adapt and have smaller meeting groups for the healing circles. We respect and apply all COVID-19 measures during the in-person healing circles. We have now opted for online meetings with members of the community as well for the mental health circles and the online sessions, like the in-person sessions were a great success!
Words of people benefiting from the program
This post is also available in: French