'Black Table Talk' fosters a community of wellness for Hamilton's racialized youth

News Oct 14, 2020 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Through her own lived experiences, Rayanne Banaga knows mental health looks differently for many Black youth.

Banaga, a peer support worker at St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, is facilitating Black Table Talk, a program that aims to improve mental health supports for Hamilton’s racialized youth. The virtual sessions consist of mental health workshops and peer support groups for Black youth aged 13 to 25.

In consultation with the Black youth council at Bernie Custis Secondary School, Banaga worked to develop a program to give racialized youth the tools to cope with emotional trauma, along with peer support skills to support one another.

Following a series of protests to combat racism, Banaga said the need for a Black-focused mental health program in Hamilton became even more urgent.

Black Table Talk was launched earlier this month, using Zoom, with a small group of eight to 10 participants. The sessions give Black youth an outlet to share their struggles, their daily experiences, and to discuss coping strategies.

“I think it’s been really therapeutic just in these small conversations,” said Banaga.

Often, said Banaga, there’s an issue of misunderstanding between Black youth and clinicians in the mental health field.

For Black youth seeking mental health supports, issues of stigmatization and criminalization are common, Banaga noted.

Sometimes Black youth find it hard to be taken seriously or they’re viewed as just looking for drugs. Differing cultural norms can also lead to misunderstanding, Banaga said.

Black youth may speak in slang, and that could come off to white clinicians as being angry or aggressive, for example.

“You might be saying something very normal in the most default tone that you have,” Banaga said. “Now you have this problem you’re trying to address but you’re not being taken seriously because of the tone.”

As Banaga explained, the goal is to create a community of wellness.

Discussions include intra-community conversations about what mental health looks like for racialized youth and how some institutions have failed to meet those needs.

Black Table Talk is operated through St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, through a partnership with the Disability Justice Network. The program is also supported by the Bell Let’s Talk initiative.

For those who may be wondering about how they can be As Banaga explained, the goal is to create a community of wellness.

Sessions include conversations about what mental health looks like for racialized youth and how some institutions have failed to meet those needs.

For those wondering how they can be allies with racialized communities, Banaga said the best place to start is your daily life.

“I think the best thing to do is for people to start at home, looking at their everyday, their workplaces or their neighbours and just start having conversations about what it is those people need,” said Banaga. “Are there people missing in the room? If you’re at a workplace and you’re finding there aren’t a lot of racialized people there, those are the questions you should be asking. Who is around me and what do they specifically need?”

For more information on Black Table Talk and the St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, Banaga invites the public to check out @reachouthamont on Instagram, for links and details on how to register for the program.

'Black Table Talk' fosters a community of wellness for Hamilton's racialized youth

News Oct 14, 2020 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Through her own lived experiences, Rayanne Banaga knows mental health looks differently for many Black youth.

Banaga, a peer support worker at St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, is facilitating Black Table Talk, a program that aims to improve mental health supports for Hamilton’s racialized youth. The virtual sessions consist of mental health workshops and peer support groups for Black youth aged 13 to 25.

In consultation with the Black youth council at Bernie Custis Secondary School, Banaga worked to develop a program to give racialized youth the tools to cope with emotional trauma, along with peer support skills to support one another.

Following a series of protests to combat racism, Banaga said the need for a Black-focused mental health program in Hamilton became even more urgent.

Black Table Talk was launched earlier this month, using Zoom, with a small group of eight to 10 participants. The sessions give Black youth an outlet to share their struggles, their daily experiences, and to discuss coping strategies.

“I think it’s been really therapeutic just in these small conversations,” said Banaga.

Often, said Banaga, there’s an issue of misunderstanding between Black youth and clinicians in the mental health field.

For Black youth seeking mental health supports, issues of stigmatization and criminalization are common, Banaga noted.

Sometimes Black youth find it hard to be taken seriously or they’re viewed as just looking for drugs. Differing cultural norms can also lead to misunderstanding, Banaga said.

Black youth may speak in slang, and that could come off to white clinicians as being angry or aggressive, for example.

“You might be saying something very normal in the most default tone that you have,” Banaga said. “Now you have this problem you’re trying to address but you’re not being taken seriously because of the tone.”

As Banaga explained, the goal is to create a community of wellness.

Discussions include intra-community conversations about what mental health looks like for racialized youth and how some institutions have failed to meet those needs.

Black Table Talk is operated through St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, through a partnership with the Disability Justice Network. The program is also supported by the Bell Let’s Talk initiative.

For those who may be wondering about how they can be As Banaga explained, the goal is to create a community of wellness.

Sessions include conversations about what mental health looks like for racialized youth and how some institutions have failed to meet those needs.

For those wondering how they can be allies with racialized communities, Banaga said the best place to start is your daily life.

“I think the best thing to do is for people to start at home, looking at their everyday, their workplaces or their neighbours and just start having conversations about what it is those people need,” said Banaga. “Are there people missing in the room? If you’re at a workplace and you’re finding there aren’t a lot of racialized people there, those are the questions you should be asking. Who is around me and what do they specifically need?”

For more information on Black Table Talk and the St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, Banaga invites the public to check out @reachouthamont on Instagram, for links and details on how to register for the program.

'Black Table Talk' fosters a community of wellness for Hamilton's racialized youth

News Oct 14, 2020 by Mike Pearson Stoney Creek News

Through her own lived experiences, Rayanne Banaga knows mental health looks differently for many Black youth.

Banaga, a peer support worker at St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, is facilitating Black Table Talk, a program that aims to improve mental health supports for Hamilton’s racialized youth. The virtual sessions consist of mental health workshops and peer support groups for Black youth aged 13 to 25.

In consultation with the Black youth council at Bernie Custis Secondary School, Banaga worked to develop a program to give racialized youth the tools to cope with emotional trauma, along with peer support skills to support one another.

Following a series of protests to combat racism, Banaga said the need for a Black-focused mental health program in Hamilton became even more urgent.

Black Table Talk was launched earlier this month, using Zoom, with a small group of eight to 10 participants. The sessions give Black youth an outlet to share their struggles, their daily experiences, and to discuss coping strategies.

“I think it’s been really therapeutic just in these small conversations,” said Banaga.

Often, said Banaga, there’s an issue of misunderstanding between Black youth and clinicians in the mental health field.

For Black youth seeking mental health supports, issues of stigmatization and criminalization are common, Banaga noted.

Sometimes Black youth find it hard to be taken seriously or they’re viewed as just looking for drugs. Differing cultural norms can also lead to misunderstanding, Banaga said.

Black youth may speak in slang, and that could come off to white clinicians as being angry or aggressive, for example.

“You might be saying something very normal in the most default tone that you have,” Banaga said. “Now you have this problem you’re trying to address but you’re not being taken seriously because of the tone.”

As Banaga explained, the goal is to create a community of wellness.

Discussions include intra-community conversations about what mental health looks like for racialized youth and how some institutions have failed to meet those needs.

Black Table Talk is operated through St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, through a partnership with the Disability Justice Network. The program is also supported by the Bell Let’s Talk initiative.

For those who may be wondering about how they can be As Banaga explained, the goal is to create a community of wellness.

Sessions include conversations about what mental health looks like for racialized youth and how some institutions have failed to meet those needs.

For those wondering how they can be allies with racialized communities, Banaga said the best place to start is your daily life.

“I think the best thing to do is for people to start at home, looking at their everyday, their workplaces or their neighbours and just start having conversations about what it is those people need,” said Banaga. “Are there people missing in the room? If you’re at a workplace and you’re finding there aren’t a lot of racialized people there, those are the questions you should be asking. Who is around me and what do they specifically need?”

For more information on Black Table Talk and the St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre, Banaga invites the public to check out @reachouthamont on Instagram, for links and details on how to register for the program.