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The Link Between Race, Mental Health, and Food Insecurity

March 2, 2020

On Monday, March 2, 2020, the City of Toronto declared the inaugural Black Mental Health Day, a day to raise awareness about the impacts of anti-Black racism on mental health in our city.

“Black Mental Health Day presents an opportunity for all Torontonians to reflect on the systemic nature of anti-Black racism and continue our efforts to combat it.”, says Mayor John Tory on this proclamation.

Anti-black racism can take on many forms and is most often experienced as lack of opportunities, barriers to accessing culturally appropriate foods and services, higher rates of precarious employment and unemployment among many other factors, all of which can lead to depression and anxiety.

In fact, certain parts of the Black community in the GTA face up to a 60% increase in mental health conditions, and Black individuals are more likely to have their mental illnesses overlooked or misdiagnosed, preventing access to effective treatment.

When discussing mental health, it is important to consider the strong link to food insecurity. One in three people hospitalized for mental health related conditions are food insecure. This connection begins in childhood, where children who have experienced hunger are at a greater risk for depression and suicidal ideation in adolescence and early adulthood.

Not only are Black communities more likely to experience poor mental health, they are also more likely to experience food insecurity. Close to 25% food bank clients identify as Black, compared to only 8% of Toronto’s population. Black Canadians are close to two times more likely to experience food insecurity than White Canadians, even when controlling for factors that might impact food security, including household income, home ownership, immigration status and education. 

Join us in helping to raise awareness about the link between race, mental health, and food insecurity! Let us work together to eliminate anti-Black racism and empower individuals in our communities to stand up against hatred and discrimination.

Click here to watch a City of Toronto panel discussion featuring prominent Torontonian community leaders, on confronting racism and mental health.

For information on how to be an effective ally in combating anti-Black racism, click here.

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