Factors that contribute to the mental health of Black youth

CMAJ. 2022 Oct 24;194(41):E1404-E1410. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.212142.


Background: Black people are a growing population in Canada, but limited data are available on the factors that contribute to the mental health of Black youth in Canada. We sought to explore the factors that contribute to the mental health of Black youth in Alberta, Canada.

Methods: Using a youth-led participatory action research approach and an intersectional feminist theoretical perspective, we collected data from a diverse sample of Black youth (aged 16-30 yr) in Alberta. We conducted individual interviews and conversation cafés with Black youth.

Results: We completed 30 individual interviews and 4 conversation cafés with a total of 99 Black youth. Participants identified the dominant factors contributing to mental health problems as racial discrimination, the intergenerational gap in families, microaggression and stigma, academic expectations, financial stress, lack of identity, previous traumatic events and religion. They also identified factors that contributed positively to mental health, including a sense of accomplishment, openness about mental health, positive relationships, sense of community and spirituality.

Interpretation: Black youth in Alberta reported that anti-Black racism and intergenerational tensions are major factors that contribute to their mental health, which suggests a need to address anti-Black racism and ensure more equitable approaches for Black youth in Alberta.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alberta
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Racism* / psychology
  • Social Stigma