There has been growing awareness regarding the inequitable access to mental health services and negative encounters that children, youth and families who are Black, indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) experience as a result of systemic racism (Fante-Coleman & Jackson-Best, 2020). The COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to virtual care has further revealed racial inequities (Crawford & Serhal, 2020; Martinelli et al., 2020) and the need to improve racial equity, diversity and inclusion in the child and youth mental health sector. The impacts of systemic racism however, like many complex social problems, are far-reaching and necessitate collaboration across agencies. Our two organizations, the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health (an intermediary organization) and Children’s Mental Health Ontario (an advocacy group with about 200 member agencies), have partnered to support this work, together with a diverse advisory committee. From a review of the literature, we identified five areas linked to effective organizational practices: organizational leadership, multi-sectoral partnerships, workforce diversity and training, client and community engagement, and continuous improvement. In this presentation, we report on our collaborative effort to identify current organizational practices that address racial equity. Using a mixed methods approach, we examined policies and practices of nearly 200 agencies in these five areas through an online survey with organizational leaders, and case studies of 8 to 12 organizations. In this presentation, we focus on multi-sectoral partnerships (e.g. with BIPOC organizations, child welfare, youth justice), including facilitators, challenges and the range and impacts of these collaborations. Data collection began in April and knowledge mobilization with key stakeholders in September 2021. The findings from the study will inform the development of a strategic plan for Ontario’s child and youth mental health sector, beginning with internal efforts in our two organizations and expanding into all agencies in our sector, for a systems approach to addressing racial equity. We will highlight lessons learned and showcase promising initiatives that can be implemented by others.
- identify five areas of organizational efforts in improving racial equity
- describe the importance of intersectoral collaborations when improving racial equity in mental health services
- describe case examples of intersectoral collaborations in addressing racial equity