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Directed Reading: Fundamentals of Black Mental Health

Course Number
CHL7001H F4
7000 (Reading Courses & Research Projects)
Course Instructor(s)
Akwatu Khenti

Course Description

This course will examine the mental health and well being challenges of Black Canadians. Longstanding issues of concern as well as new pandemic related issues will be examined. Participants will consider cultural strengths and protective factors as well risk factors associated with social determinants of health (SDH) and systemic racism. Intersections of racial and culturally rooted stigma and its impact on help seeking behaviours will be analyzed. Mental health treatment needs, and available options, will be examined along with the psychological and cultural resources essential for community based recovery. Pathways from public stereotypes, microaggressions to diminished self-concept and self-stigmatization will be considered. Mental health is viewed as an essential resource for effective social functioning and health care a human right. Both are effectively undermined by systemic racism as well as racialized social determinants of health. The meaning of mental health and well being and mental health status of segments of the Black population will be explored in sessions one to four. Sessions five to seven will examine the patterns of addictive and mood disorders, psychosis and dementia that impact Black communities. Session eight will explore homicide and violence as Black mental health issues. Session nine will explore prevention education, harms reduction and mental health promotion, as well as public policies, required to reduce the mental health burdens on Black communities.

Course Objectives

Learning objectives of this course are to:

  • Broaden and deepen understanding of the meaning of Black mental health given the well-established definition of mental health as ‘complete physical, mental and social wellbeing’ (WHO, 2021) and the Black historic realities of deficient social, economic, psychological, and environmental supports within post-slavery societies such as Canada.
  • Relate systemic racism and racialized social determinants of health to expressions of psychosis, addictive, mood and anxiety disorders, racialized violence, and homicide.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to examine demonstrable resiliencies and strengths based approaches to mitigate the impact of historical and contemporary oppression upon diverse segments of Black diasporic populations.

Methods of Assessment

Reflective Paper 25%
Major Essay 50%
Class Presentation 25%