Community members have been organizing around improving mental health and additions services in Black communities for a long time. These efforts have led to programs like the Substance Abuse Program for African Canadian and Caribbean Youth (SAPACCY), the Black Enhanced Youth Outreach Worker Program and many other youth-led initiatives aimed at creating effective services for Black youth.
Since 2015, Black Health Alliance (BHA) has engaged with mental health professionals, community coalitions and policy makers to work towards improving services. This led to community consultations in 2017 which involved Black youth, families, community members and stakeholders across Ontario.
At every consultation held mental health and a lack of appropriate mental health supports for Black children and youth were raised as pressing issues affecting Black communities.
In response, BHA partnered with TAIBU Community Health Centre, Wellesley Institute, the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH), and East Metro Youth Services to build a project that would improve the current system of services available to Black children and youth in Ontario.
The result is Pathways to Care, a 5-year project aimed at removing barriers and improving access to mental health and addictions services for Black children, youth and their families in 6 cities across Ontario.
To learn more about Black Health Alliance, click here.
To improve access to mental health and addictions services Pathways to Care will:
Increase the capacity of Black families and caregivers to support young people in seeking mental health and addictions care
Involve the community and focus on best practices for mental health and addiction services
Shift the way Black children, youth and their families are served by mental health organizations
Develop a clear strategy that speaks to Black communities and places Black young people at the centre of care development
Transform the mental healthcare system and inform policy
All Black children and youth deserve excellent mental healthcare, including newcomers, youth in the justice system, Black youth who are queer and gender-diverse, those who have witnessed violent acts, and homeless or street involved young people.
At the Pathways to Care our values are central to our work. They include:
A focus on anti-Black racism
Empowerment, capacity-building, and self-determination for Black children, youth, and their families
Focusing on the best clinical standards that are culturally relevant and reduce the possibility of further harm
Creating a ‘community of care’ to surround Black clients and families and reduce gaps in the system
Governments, service providers, and Black communities need to work together to make it easier for Black Ontarians to access mental health and addiction services.
Many changes are needed to build a system that meets the needs of Black Ontarians. Mental Health services need to be culturally safe, rooted in cultural knowledge, and determined by Black children, youth, and their families.
Services that are designed specifically for diverse populations and consider their social circumstances lead to better mental health for clients and save money.
At Pathways to Care, we have identified 8 pathways to change to transform the system and make those changes a reality:
8 Pathways to Change
The Pathways to Care project aims to increase access to mental healthcare for Black children, youth, and their families who live in six key regions in Southern Ontario: Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, London and Windsor