The Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition is committed to improving the mental health and wellness of Ottawa’s African, Caribbean and Black communities.
The current configuration of the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition began in the fall of 2018, ignited by numerous conversations and forums with community leaders and organizations, all of whom shared the need for improved mental health supports for Black communities.
Common elements that impact mental health and wellness and access to services:
- A deep lack of trust in traditional mainstream mental health systems based on past interactions, including experiences of racism and discrimination.
- Current models used by mental health professionals do not routinely integrate culture, faith, language and community as part of the mental health care.
- There is a lack of awareness about available mental health and wellness resources that are free or low-cost and specific to the ACB community.
The Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition has come together to identify ways we can work collectively to amplify our individual impact and ensure a strong, united and coordinated mental health response in the ACB community. We seek to create more integrated services to support those with lived experience, those in crisis, family members supporting youth and seniors and the ACB clinicians and mental health workers who provide direct services in the community.
Our current mental health system provides varying levels of clinical care and emergency services to support individuals in times of crisis. However, culturally appropriate supports that address local community needs, minimize mental distress, foster hope, support recovery and build resilience, are insufficient to meet demands.
Using an equity lens, our Coalition aims to inform a regional strategy that addresses the diversity within ACB communities and supports the resilience and recovery of ACB residents across Ottawa.
The Coalition recognizes the many intersections within any ACB community, and as such strives to be as diverse, inclusive and reflective of many families and individuals our members serve in Ottawa.
The Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition and its partners work to identify gaps in supports and services that impact the health and wellbeing of Ottawa ACB communities. Concerns around housing, employment, social isolation and discrimination have profound impacts on mental health and have been compounded by the recent global pandemic.
ACB communities reflect a myriad of languages, religions, cultures and lived experience. By recognizing the unique challenges faced by ACB populations, actively addressing barriers and looking for innovative ways to connect with an often hard to reach population, the Coalition has made a significant impact in a short time.
Through partnership with Counselling Connect, the OBMHC supports the delivery of free short-term counselling specific for priority populations including ACB communities, in French, English and Arabic.
ACB Intersections is our regular online webinar series featuring OBMHC partners as we highlight the many issues that impact Black mental health, share best practices and learn about the innovative programs available in the Ottawa region.
Our Community of Practice group is led by regional experts in research, community mental health and clinical counselling. Connecting clinicians and mental health professionals with culturally adapted resources and information for ACB populations, and through our Knowledge Hub.
As we commemorate Black History Month and leading up to Black Mental Health Week, we must focus on the African, Caribbean, and Black communities’ needs. Mental Health is an aspect that requires more insight, honesty and unashamed conversations.
For the community. By the community
Members of the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition are community associations, health sector leaders and experts concerned with the mental health and wellbeing of Black communities.
OBMH Coalition is steered by Executive Board members from a variety of organizations, representing the intersectoral nature of mental health and wellbeing. Priority Working Groups, with input and guidance from the Executive Board are focused on three areas of focus:
- Anti-racism Advocacy and Systems Change
- ACB Mental Health Awareness
- Mental Health Supports
Working with an anti-racist, health equity approach, the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition Priority Working Groups are committed to:
- Supporting the sharing of resources and best practices with organizations and professionals looking to invest in mental health supports and improved outcomes for Black communities.
- Increasing awareness among the Black community in Ottawa on how to access bilingual, culturally competent mental health supports and services.
- Expanding the range of culturally competent mental health supports available to Ottawa’s Black communities.