Five women participating in a panel discussion are seated in front of flat-screen TV showing the Amnesty International logo. Photo: Bruce Ramsey/Amnesty International Canada

Watch: ‘Mental Health and Us:’ Feb. 1 Panel Discussion for Black History Month 2023

It should be obvious that anti-Black racism harms Black people’s mental health.

Yet, despite more public awareness about the importance of mental health to overall wellbeing, the role anti-Black racism plays in undermining mental health, including access to care, continues to receive scant attention.

Black activists, educators, researchers and clinicians in Canada and abroad are working to change this. To help spread the word, a group of Toronto-area changemakers opened up about their efforts during a thought-provoking panel discussion hosted by Amnesty International Canada on February 1, 2023.

A full video of the discussion, emceed by Toronto-based health equity and communications expert Rudayna Bahubeshi, is available to stream below: 

Held in honour of Black History Month 2023, “Mental Health and Us” included powerful testimony from the following panelists:

  • Stacy-Ann Buchanan, Mental Health Advocate, TEDx Speaker, Filmmaker, and Actress
  • Dr. Krissy Doyle-Thomas, Ph. D, Medical Neuroscientist and Professor, Mohawk College
  • Roxanne Francis, Founder and CEO, Francis Psychotherapy & Consulting Services
  • Nicole Waldron, Change Agent and Community Advocate

Poignantly, the event took place on the same day that the body of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year-old Black man whom police fatally injured in a violent 7 January 2023 traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee, was finally laid to rest.

Nichols’s death, and the video of police beating him, rightfully sparked worldwide outrage and grief and reinvigorated the public conversation about how police violence threatens the safety, the lives and the mental health of Black, Indigenous and other racialized people.

‘Transcending together so that we can be stronger’

“This is another trauma on all of us,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, Amnesty International Canada’s Secretary General, during her introduction.

A woman in a tweed blazer and below-shoulder-length braids smiles while speaking into a microphone.
Ketty Nivyabandi, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, spoke about resilience, community and hope in her opening address. (Photo: Bruce Ramsey/Amnesty International Canada)

“So all of us tonight need mental health, all of us need that support.

“But at the same time, I look at all of us around here and I am struck by this balance between tragedy and beauty. And this is what we’ve been about, our resilience. We’ve managed to transcend so much, so many tragedies, and to build beauty out of the rubble.

“This is what this evening is about. It’s about us transcending together so that we can be stronger.”

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