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What is Black Mental Health ?

Mental health is not just limited to what we think because it greatly impacts how feel and ultimately how we act. For this reason, black mental health issues affect one’s entire experience as a human being and should be taken seriously. Mental health within the black community impacts how individuals respond to stress, conflict and relationships. Mental health issues within the black community  can present as early as 4 years of age and continue all the way into adulthood. Within the black community, there are many obstacles when it comes to addressing mental health issues. Cultural, social and many personal factors impact one’s ability to identify mental health issues, seek help for mental health issues and be treated for mental health issues. It is not surprising then to learn that black individuals in are significantly more likely to experience mental illness compared to other racial/ethnic groups in Canada.

Mental health problems within the black community in Toronto present distinctive features depending on the stage of life. As children, it affects them in the areas of academics, social functioning, self-esteem, and behavioural problems. During teen years, it affects these same areas but adds the tendency to self-medicate, engage in risky behaviour, and make bad choices that could lead to criminality, health problems, relational pitfalls and more. As an adult, mental health issues have the capacity to render someone dysfunctional in areas of work, relationships and self-care.

 Many factors contribute to Black mental health problems, including:

  • Biology, such as family genes and neurological problems from birth
  • Life circumstances such as poverty, abuse, neglect and being subject to traumatic events
  • Family history of mental health problems

There is no need to be shameful about having mental health problems. Many people do but there are real and effective ways to get treated. Help is available and professionals are willing, ready and able to help. In fact the prognosis is very positive when treatment is sought and most individuals do get better and recover completely.

Early Warning Signs

If you believe you may be suffering from mental illness or perhaps you suspect someone you know may be mentally vulnerable, there are some key signs to look for.  If you are or someone else you know is experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviours, it could be an early warning sign of a mental health issues:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Becoming Your Whole Self

Seeking help to treat mental health issues will have a myriad of positive effects on your life. In fact Positive mental health allows individuals to:

  • Realize their true potential in all areas
  • Respond to stress with effective tools and a right attitude
  • Function at work and make contributions to society as a whole
  • Maintain a sense of self-respect and empathy toward others

Ways to sustain your mental health

  • Seek professional help when needed
  • Be transparent and honest when struggling with issues
  • Intentionally seeking out connections with others
  • Focus on the positive things in life
  • Stay actively and exercise
  • Lend a helping hand to others in need
  • Maintain a good eating and sleeping regiment
  • Become educated on mental health
  • Develop ongoing coping mechanisms

Learn More about Black Mental Health 

Black Mental Health Canada  exists for one sole reason, to provide  individuals within the black community access to affordable evidence-based mental health services and education in the face of stigma, risk factors and barriers to care.  We recognize that Black Mental Health issues  are real and significant and our providers are culturally and socially sensitive. Theirs is no reason for suffer alone if you are black, and are experiencing mental health problem, please contact us at