The Black Men Therapy Fund is a Trans and Black-led Fund based in Toronto focused on supporting the urgent mental health needs of Black men across intersections. This project provides support through professional psychology and therapeutic services, educational resources, workshops and discussion groups, advocacy, and the creative arts.
The fund is guided by five main principles;
- Black men are highly vulnerable to factors linked to poorer mental health outcomes
- Mental wellness should not be determined by an individual’s economic status,
- Mental health is one the most neglected areas of public health yet it tends to impact all areas of a person’s life and relationships,
- Investment into individual mental health is an investment into collective well-being, and
- Everybody, including Black men, are deserving of safe, happy, and healthy lives.
Why support the mental well-being of Black men?
Mental health affects everybody, regardless of race, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, ability or age. And while the pandemic has amplified mental health issues for many, not everybody will be able to access the same social and financial resources to recover.
Many Black men grow up conditioned to believe that their internal emotional self doesn't have inherent and productive value and they struggle to express, understand, or even acknowledge their own emotional experiences. For years, Black men have disproportionately faced challenges to receiving the mental health support they need due to cultural barriers, traditional conceptions of masculinity, damaging racial stereotypes, stigma, economic status, and lack of affordable and/or adequate resources. This reality is only further compounded when Black men in Canada, especially Black trans, gay, and differently-abled men, are highly vulnerable to factors that are linked to poorer mental health outcomes such as; unemployment, housing insecurity, poverty, police brutality, criminalization, and discrimination. According to the Toronto Star, racism increases the rate of psychosis and depression by 200-300%.
When Black men don’t have the tools to process their emotional experiences and properly treat mental illness, it can lead to further emotional distress which at its worst, can manifest in self-harm, self-destructive behaviour, or outward expressions of anger, aggression, and even violence. Recent findings from reports based out of Canada and the United States found that:
- Two-thirds of Black Canadians suffer from depression (CTV News, 2021).
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Black Men in the United States (OMH, 2021).
- Men account for more than 75% of suicide rates in Canada (CBC, 2021).
- Men are three times more likely to experience addiction and substance abuse than women in Canada (CBC, 2021).
Recently, there has been a notable rise in individual and collective movements to challenge these harmful trends and highlight the importance of Black men’s psychological and emotional wellness. Despite these efforts, access to quality mental health and psychosocial support remains an enormous barrier.
While some no or low-cost mental health support is available in several provinces, these options rarely cover psychology, psychotherapy and counselling and are often not appropriate for the mental health needs of vulnerable communities. The intersection of identity makes Black men and masculine-identified folks far less likely to have access to safe, adequate and culturally competent care.
For many in the community, finding a counsellor who understands, affirms and is responsive to their identity is challenging — and nearly impossible when limited to the scarce affordable options available. A recent study from the Mental Health Commission found that wait times for mental health care for Black-Caribbean populations averaged 16 months, more than twice that for White patients. Studies show that economic status often makes up a significant part of Black men’s mental health concerns today, indicating the critical importance of greater financial investment in getting therapy for more men.
When Black men are equipped with the right tools, resources, and support needed to care for their mental well-being, they can heal from past traumas, cultivate joy for themselves and their communities, and achieve their full potential.
If we meet our $30,000 goal, we will be able to;
- Supply ten Black men with professional and culturally competent therapy for a one-year period with a particular focus on queer, trans, and differently-abled men,
- Launch a four-month holistic wellness program inclusive of workshops, community support dialogues, music and mindfulness sessions that are specifically designed to centre the mental wellness of Black men and confront the complex barriers they face, and
- Develop a practical resource that Black men across identities can use to support self-directed emotional healing and de-escalation.
For the Black men who were already struggling with their mental health before the pandemic, this moment is critical.
The capacity of the fund to support mental health journeys is wholly dependent on the money raised through this campaign. No donation is too small. Any contribution you make is a much-needed step towards better mental health outcomes.
Thank you, you are appreciated!