The Haitian Student Association of Concordia partnered up with mental health groups to destigmatize mental illness in BIPOC communities.
On Nov. 8, the Haitian Student Association of Concordia collaborated with My Mental Health Matters and Stronger than Stigma to host an open discussion about mental health in Black, Indigenous, People of Colour communities (BIPOC) through an event called “It’s Not All In Your Head.”
“We’re broadcasting the message that anyone struggling, both emotionally or physically, isn’t alone,” said Stronger than Stigma President, Jillian Caplan. “That’s so important, especially in a high stress, academic environment. A dynamic conversation is a key component of mental health advocacy, so the best way to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness is to talk about it.”
Three speakers candidly shared their struggle with mental health as part of the Stronger Stories segment of the event.
Jean Felando Noël, one of the speakers, said the event gave him the opportunity to be a voice for people who share his identity, by being a man, and by being someone from the Haitian community.
“I feel like some people kind of stay in the dark about how they feel, until they have somebody who steps forward and shares their story with others,” said Noël. “It shows them that it’s okay to speak, it’s okay to force yourself – so I honestly wanted to be here to be a voice [for] people; to be the voice of others who probably don’t have the chance of talking.”
Annick Maugile Flavien, the founding coordinator for the Black Perspective Initiative and co-moderator of the conversation, said it’s especially important to talk about mental health and illness in communities who tend to avoid acknowledging it.
In some racialized communities, “mental health is stigmatized in ways that are beyond just our family and friend dynamics, but also rooted in deeper colonial histories, and ideas of race, and religion-all of these things make for a very complicated individual life that is tied to a larger history,” said Maugile Flavien.
Off-campus mental health resources for BIPOC community
- You can find a list of BIPOC mental health professionals here
- There is an ongoing list of Black mental health professionals you can access here
- My Mental Health Matters
Off-campus mental health resources
- Argyle Institute
- The Emotional Mental Health Centre CBT Clinic
- The Montreal Therapy Centre
- Zen Dens
- Concordia Students’ Nightline
- Empower Me
- Stronger than Stigma
“I really wanted to get a sense of what the emotional climate is with students at Concordia right now, and learn from their wisdom, and learn from their stories and be sensitized to what’s happening in people’s daily lives, in faces that we see everyday,” said Maugile Flavien.
Photo by Cecilia Piga