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U of O led project aims to develop better mental health tools for youth in Black – Health News Today

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Image: Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience and Culture Research Lab/Provided

Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience and Culture Research Lab heads community-focused research project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada

To better understand mental health issues faced by Black youth in the National Capital Region and to develop tools addressing the gaps in mental health services, researchers at the University of Ottawa are running a four-year project called Mental Health in Black communities in the National Capital Region (NCR): Evaluation and tools for prevention and intervention. 

“I’ve said this many times before and I’ll say it again. Why is it important to conduct research on mental health in Black communities? Because I’ve seen too many young people with mental health problems suffer,” said assistant professor Jude Cénat, the project’s lead who also runs the Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience and Culture Research Lab (V-TRaC) at the U of O. 

“Their families and communities didn’t know how to help them and social and health institutions provided care that was ill-suited and not culturally responsive to them.” 

The Public Health Agency of Canada announced back in September that $4.9 million will be awarded to projects through the Promoting Health Equities: Mental Health of Black Canadians Fund (MHBC), of which $799,265 is going to the University of Ottawa’s department of psychology for this particular project.

This project aims to better understand and support the mental health needs of Black youth and their families in both English and French communities in the National Capital Region. Research on the prevalence of mental illness and current patterns of mental health services usage will inform mental health practitioners’ on the necessary development of tools to support communities’ mental health needs.  

Cary Kogan, the director of the Center for Psychological Services and Research at U of O, and Assumpta Ndengeyingoma, professor at the department of nursing at the University of Quebec in Outaouais, are also working on the project with Cénat.

“We actually started the project in June [of] 2019,” said Cénat. He explained that they had already received funding and started the project last year. This funding was made public in September 2020 by the Government of Canada in relation to the announcement of their $11.5 million commitment to enhance local community support for youth at risk and support more culturally focused mental health programs for Black Canadians.

The project’s first objective is to conduct quantitative and qualitative research to better understand the experiences with mental health issues and mental health care services of Black youth and assess mental health workers’ needs for access to culturally adapted information and tools.

“When I did a meta-analysis of existing literature of depression and substance…

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