In recent years, there has been more and more conversations around Black people getting therapy, especially in the United States. Everyone from Charlamagne Tha God to some of our favourite hip-hop legends are encouraging us to deal with our traumas and get help.
Here in Canada, we lack similar high profile voices, but organizations like the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition are doing their part to spread the word.
This week the OBMHC is hosting Black Mental Health Week launched with a proclamation from City Hall. The theme for this year’s seven-day event, held from March 1-7, is Leadership and Innovation, highlighting regional and national agencies who have taken a leadership role in finding innovative ways to tackle Black mental health.
While Black Mental Health Week is a great time for city officials and the broader community to get talk about how it can better serve Black communities, it’s also a time for us as a community to ask ourselves, “Are we okay?”
Today, I’m thinking about a friend of mind in the Toronto area who committed suicide back in October 2019. He was in his mid-40’s―a father, husband, mortgage specialist, and man of faith. Every time I saw him, either at church or the barber shop, he’d greet me with a big hug and encouraging word, and would ask sincerely how my family was doing.
After he passed away, I went back to our last interaction on Facebook and realized it was left on “Seen”. I wondered if he was in a moment of deep pain, needing someone to ask if he was okay, when I came with a selfish request; not even asking him how he was doing.
If we were to really take stock of our emotions and mental state, many of us aren’t okay. You can here it in our speech; years of mental and emotional ware and tare we’ve been carrying since childhood. Pressures men are feeling that they wouldn’t dare tell their wives and partners because they need to be the man. Pressures women are feeling but can’t tell their husbands and partners because they need to be equally strong. Seniors feeling forgotten. Our children and youth being exposed to thing real life experiences way too early.
All I know is it’s okay to not be 100% okay.
If you’re in the Ottawa area and need of some support, here are a organizations you can talk to.
- Britannia Woods Community House
- Canadians of African Descent Health Organization
- Centre Le Cap
- Jaku Konbit
- Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership
- Muslim Family Services
- Somali Family Centre
- Upstream Ottawa
- Canadian Women of Color Leadership Network
- African Canadian Association of Ottawa
- ACB Wellness Resource Centre
- Regroupement Ethnoculturel des Parents Francophones de l’Ontario
- FAMHAS Foundation
For information about the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition and Black Mental Health Week, visit obmhc.ca.