The Barbados Association of Winnipeg is leading the development of a mental health toolkit for Black Canadians.
Over the last 18 months, BAW (1100 Fife St.) has been working with African Communities of Manitoba, the Council of Caribbean Organizations of Manitoba, the Jamaican Association of Manitoba, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Women’s Health Clinic, to engage the public and create a resource that promotes mental well-being among Black people.
Black Canadians lack access to culturally relevant mental health promotion resources that educate and empower them, research shows.
Organizers are planning to release the final toolkit in August, but are still looking for feedback. Interested folks can access the working document online and submit their input. It’s available in both English and French.
Antoinette Zloty, the project leader and a retired social worker, said the toolkit aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
"There are still a lot of people who are afraid to seek help," she said.
"We really want to encourage people to see their mental health as important and as important as their physical health.
"It’s not meant to be an encyclopedia of information. But it’s sort of meant to bring together Black communities and beyond, with a focused look on mental health."
The toolkit considers social determinants of health such as income, housing, employment, sexism and racism, Zloty explained. It also incorporates visuals and stories of lived experience.
"What we’ve integrated into it also are a lot of visuals, a lot of pictures of Black children and adults, because in a lot of tools you don’t necessarily see the people. This toolkit is unique in that you see a lot of images of people who are like us," she said.
The toolkit can be used by non-Black individuals, as well, to teach about the experience of Black Canadians.
"People who are working with Black Canadians, we want them to actually really look at it, people who are working in social services and health.
"We want them to go and take a look at it, and see if there are some things in there that may help them to be more aware of the multiplicity of things that can impact Black Canadians."
Although feedback sessions were scheduled to end June 27, Zloty said there will likely be additional opportunities throughout the summer and interested folks should visit the website to stay updated.
The project was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Visit blackmentalhealthpromotion.ca for more information.
The Times community journalist
Sydney Hildebrandt was the community journalist for The Times until September 2021, when she joined our sister paper, the Brandon Sun.