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Black Mental Health Week: Barriers to Seeking Mental Health Services within Black Communities

March 3, 2023

While Black individuals may experience mental health issues at similar rates as other racial or ethnic groups, they are far less likely to seek help. According to a 2018 survey of 328 Black Canadian residents, only 38.3% of Black Canadian residents, who self-reported poor or fair mental health, used mental health services. Meanwhile, 50.4% of white Canadians, who self-reported similar mental health conditions, sought services.  


There are several reasons why Black communities are less likely to seek out mental health services. First, there is the issue of stigma from others and self-stigma, which discourages people in Black communities from seeking help.  


Second, a lack of awareness may prevent Black people from searching for support. For example, a 2018 study of Black people living in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America found that a lack of mental health literacy within the communities was preventing them from seeking help.  


Third, the lack of representation in the medical community acts as a barrier. Black people deeply mistrust medical professionals due to medical racism and a history of Black people being the subjects of unethical medical experiments.  


A recent study found a link between the public revelation of the Tuskegee Study and poor health outcomes for Black men due to a lack of trust in physicians and the medical system. 60% of Black Canadians surveyed said they would be more willing to speak to a mental health professional if they were Black.  


We must do better when it comes to bringing awareness but also in helping break these barriers that are preventing Black communities from accessing much needed mental health services. This upcoming Black Mental Health Week, PeerWorks wants to highlight some resources from organizations working in the mental health space within the Black communities in Canada.  


Across Boundaries provides addiction and mental health services for racialized persons in the Greater Toronto Area. 


Black Creek Community Health Centre has a holistic approach to healthcare where caregivers “see beyond illness, social circumstance, and stigma, treating you as a whole person, by creating a safe space where you feel seen, and secure.” 


TAIBU Community Health Centre a multidisciplinary, non-for-profit, community led organization established to serve the Black Community across the Greater Toronto Area as its priority population. 


Women’s Health in Women’s Hands is a Community Health Centre for racialized women living in Toronto and surrounding municipalities. 


Black Health Alliance is a community-led registered charity working to improve the health and well-being of Black communities in Canada. 


FAHMAS Foundation provides Black Mental Health – ACB Counselling Program. The Foundation’s outreach programs and educational sessions provide information and resources to help eliminate stereotypes and stigma about mental health and addiction in the Black community. 


Black Youth Helpline offers community development and support for Black youth across Canada with the mission to prevent “social [and] psychological breakdown in communities through a focus on education, health and community development.” 


If there are any additional organizations and resources that you would like to bring to our attention, please email