Depression part of daily life for many Black Canadians, study finds

TORONTO — A new study has found that the majority of Black Canadians suffer from “severe depressive symptoms” due to racial discrimination.

The study, conducted by researchers out of the University of Ottawa, reported that nearly two-thirds (65.87 per cent) of Black individuals in Canada suffer from depression, with women being impacted more.

“Rates of depressive symptoms among Black individuals are nearly six times the 12-month prevalence reported for the general population in Canada,” Jude Mary Cenat, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, said in a press release.

The study’s authors say the findings are important as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on the mental health of Canadians.

The findings were published Thursday, in the peer-reviewed journal Depression and Anxiety.

The study, which was funded by a grant from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), involved 846 Black individuals in Canada. According to the study, 76.6 per cent of surveyed participants were women, with an average age of nearly 25.

Cenat said in the release that those surveyed who experienced a high level of racial discrimination were 36 more times likely to be diagnosed with severe depression.

“Racial discrimination which significantly predicts greater depressive symptomatology is consistent with earlier studies in the United States and suggests that Canadian colourblind policies may inadvertently reinforce racial discrimination with detrimental effects to mental health,” Cenat said.

To help combat this, the study’s authors suggest “concrete actions and paradigm shifts” to end the colourblind approach in mental health services in Canada.


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