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Panel: Lack of mental health support for Black and Indigenous people

In Communities, Indigenous1 Comment

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By Christina Tommasone

Panelists at Ryerson made a call to explore the topic of lack of mental health care within Indigenous and racialized communities and create a change during Social Justice Week.

Ryerson’s Josephine Wong, professor for school of nursing, Sharon McLeod, a social work professor, Lynn Lavelle, a social work professor, and Wairmu Njoroge , a social worker for Across Boundaries, joined each other to point out flaws within the health care system when it comes to racialized people.

“Anti-Indigenous, Anti-Black racism and the violence that intersect with it have decompensated, devastated and continue to compromise our personhoods—we seek funding [with] an appropriate share in the 50 billion in health care that includes a 10-year mental health and addiction strategy”, says McLeod

McLeod tearfully explained the relationships of African-Canadians and mental care. According to McLeod, African-Canadians are more likely to be brought to the hospital for psychosis by the police not an ambulance.

Njoroge explained that these communities just receive doses of medication to treat their mental illness.

The Indigenous community is partnered with the African-Canadian community when it comes to dosing on medication opposed to human support according to Lavalle.  

“Anti-Native [racism] is the over prescription of medication. Anti-Native and anti-Black racism is the indirect and direct support of white supremacy. These terms put the label on us, we have the problem,” says Lavalle.

To combat the stigma of mental health and support the problem of dealing with mental health the right way in these communities McLeod wants students to “achieve excellence” and to further advance mental health care. As for Lavalle, she wants non-racialized communities to take their discomfort and fear in being called a racist and strive to help others.

“When non-Indigenous and non-racialized people get entangled in [racism] they can’t handle the fear because they’re not used to it on a daily. This is why they need to help others,” says Lavalle.


  1. —To combat the stigma of mental health ???

    I think you mean to combat those who direct that prejudice. You do not mean to join them.

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