ACB Mental Health Month

Follow us on Social Media to engage with the digital discussions!

Our goals

In January there will be a social media conversation, 4 check-ins with mental health experts, and a panel discussion. This will lead to:

  • de-stigmatization of talking about mental health,
  • support with mental health for everyone (because everyone has mental health),
  • more space in the community for mental health, and thereby a stronger, healthier and more resilient community.

Mental health is precarious for many youth who transition from high school into the next stage of their lives, as they have to make important choices that shape the rest of their lives, while experiencing the stress and challenges of becoming an adult. Some youth also face being racialized, and having less access to support than other youth.

Currently many youth also face the isolation and stress of COVID. The structure of their lives in these unprecedented times is undermined, and the relations they have with friends and other important people is affected. Many youth face loneliness and isolation.

We will work from three principles: Trauma-informed, Belonging-focused, Strength-based.

In many Black communities, mental health is stigmatized, and talking about your mental health issues can have social consequences. The ACMP aims to provide ACB youth the tools and safe opportunity to successfully talk about mental health issues in the open. To ensure that this discussion is trauma-informed, and attentive to stigma, the ACMP will engage with a range of experts from the mental health field, covering the most common and most harmful mental health issues that ACB youth face.

Furthermore, in spite of the bleak depiction above, the ACMP recognizes that ACB youth have developed many adaptive coping mechanisms that allow them to survive and thrive. The ACMP aims to support and share those strengths. Especially communities can be very important for that goal, and as a supportive factor in itself. The ACMP aims to strengthen communities and allow participants to connect with one another.

For resources to cope or heal, go here:
https://weareacmp.com/mental-health-resources/

Activities

The African Caribbean Mentorship Program (ACMP) will offer our membership a range of opportunities to reflect, build skills, engage and learn more about mental health in this challenging time. There will be three main approaches: (1) a social media messaging campaign, (2) weekly check-ins and (3) a final panel discussion. This interactive format will allow the topics to be informed by questions of the audience.

Topics

Each week will focus on a separate topic by a different expert. Current topics and experts are:

  1. Stigma and barriers to mental health support by Everett L. Adams III;
  2. Trauma by Meghan Wills;
  3. Anxiety and Depression by Tracy Charles (CMHA);
  4. Substance (ab)use by Kofi Morris.

Our Facilitators. Click here for their bios.

Wed Jan 6, 7pm – 8:30pm: Stigma and barriers to mental health support by Everett L. Adams II;
Mental health stigma stops people from recognizing mental health as important and never a prevalent issue. Everyone has mental health concerns, and everyone will experience mental health stressors at one point or another in their life. Stigma makes us believe that mental health is something to be ashamed of, and it stops people from recognizing their own issues, from talking about their issues, supporting each other or seeking support. Both mental health stigma and barriers to mental health support are shaped in specific ways by anti-Black racism, and look different within our respective ACB communities. During this conversation, Dr. Adams will discuss what stigma means, what it looks like, what barriers ACB people can experience when seeking support, and share strategies to mitigate both the stigma and the barriers. Afterwards there will be ample opportunity to ask questions.

Wed Jan 13, 7pm – 8:30pm: Trauma by Meghan Wills;
Trauma is an emotional response to a distressing event or series of connected events. Trauma can be intergenerational as well, “a cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations, emanating from massive group trauma” (Brave Heart, Maria Y.H. (1998). The return to the sacred path: Healing the historical trauma response among the Lakota. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 68(3), 287-305). In this conversation, Meghan Wills will engage with the ACB community on trauma, especially intergenerational, due to anti-Black racism and as experienced by different ACB communities. Also, Mehgan will discuss specific strengths ACB people and communities can leverage to mitigate trauma. Afterwards there will be ample opportunity to ask questions.

Wed Jan 20, 7pm – 8:30pm: Anxiety and Depression by and Tracy Charles (CAMH);
Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health issues. Everyone can sometimes feel anxious or depressed, and may need support or skills to cope as best as possible. For many other people anxiety and depression are experienced to such a degree and for such a long time that their lives are impacted by it. Tracy Charles will explain what both entail and how to recognize them, share strategies to mitigate and cope, and how to best recognize and support people who live with anxiety and depression. Afterwards there will be ample opportunity to ask questions.

Wed Jan 27, 7pm – 8:30pm: Substance (ab)use by Kofi Morris;
Many people use different substances, including alcohol. People use substances to address different needs: to celebrate, to relax, to stop the stress, to forget sadness or to socialize. When people can only address one or more of those needs with substances, when those substances disrupt their life, and stopping seems impossible, this can be called a substance use disorder. Kofi Morris will discuss what substance use looks like in our respective communities, how substance use disorders impact people, strategies to cope or work towards change, as well as how to support people. Often people who use substances are stigmatized, which is very harmful. Instead the unique strengths of our communities should be used to support people who struggle with substance use. Afterwards there will be ample opportunity to ask questions.

Fri Jan 29, 7pm – 9pm: Panel discussion: Bringing it all Together
After all the weekly presentations are complete, the four featured experts during the month campaign will conduct a panel discussion to address Mental Health concerns in our ACB community. The purpose is to further explore the four themes and to provide further insight on how our ACB communities can heal. 
The discussion is a 2 hour event. The panel will go for an hour and the final hour the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions or provide practical recommendations

Where: Zoom
Live stream: Facebook live / YouTube.
Panelist:

  • Meghan Willis 
  • Dr. Everett El. Adams II
  • Kofi Morris 
  • Tracy Charles: CMHA

Fri January 22, 7:30pm – 9:30pm: Changing the Narrative: Using entertainment to locate and discuss our traumas
The use of entertainment can, at times, encourage critical thinking, and moments of reflection. It is through movies and tv dramas, particularly, where audience members can view how social oppressions impact people. With many moments of entertainment, audience members are reminded that anti-Black racism is a reality not only on screen but a continuous struggle for the ACB community. Visually, entertainment (fiction or non-fiction) shows how black men, women and children are oppressed in our contemporary societies, yet still these visuals seem to unmove oppressors from stripping the humanity from ACB people, where they suffer extreme measures of mental health concerns.
In efforts to address mental health concerns in the Black community the Afro-Caribbean Mentorship Program (ACMP)  has organized its second, FREE movie screening, with an open and thought-provoking discussion to follow.

Hosted by, Warren Clarke, the event will screen the following:

1)  Black Mirror Eps. Black Museum (20 mins)
Description – Haynes’ Black Museum is a highway attraction out in the desert that houses artifacts of criminology. When a young ACB woman named Nish, played by Letitia Wright (Black Panther, Suri), enters the museum, enticing audience members to assume she has time to kill. However, Nish has other plans to address deep rooted family concerns which impacted her immediate family members mental health.

2)  Movie – Sick (30 mins)
Description – A Story about the challenges of a young ACB man with mental health issues. This film was made by Paul McKenzie with young people during a 1 week half term holiday period.

3)  Thought provoking discussion (1 hour)
The ACMP goal is to foster an inclusive and safe space for students, professionals and community members from all walks of life to communicate, learn, and discuss the mental health concerns among the ACB community.
Themes – Black masculinity, Black femininity, Black family, white supremacy, mental health, Blackness, Criminalization

ACMP recognizes that the fiction behind the films portrays and acknowledges a social reality that many Black Canadians and Americans deal with on a day to day basis. We use this film not only to entertain our guests but also to encourage critical thinking.

Where: Zoom
Cost: Free