The Government of Canada announces $2.8 million to support 2SLGBTQI+ Mental HealthCategories: David Brennan, Faculty, Leadership
On May 1, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health came to the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work to announce $2.8 million in funding to the Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC). The funding will support CBRC’s “Investigaytors” program — a 2SLGBTQI+ focused community-based health leadership initiative that fosters important resources for good mental health, including mental health literacy, social connection and problem-solving skills.
The Investigaytors program was created by the CBRC in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2011. In 2016, the program expanded to Toronto, where it is run in partnership with the CRUISElab, led by University of Toronto social work Professor David Brennan. CBRC launched the program in Edmonton and Winnipeg in 2019.
“The focus on community-engaged mental health initiatives is a critical lifeline for 2SLGBTQIA+ people,” said Brennan, who spoke at the announcement. “We know there is a greater possibility of better mental health outcomes if researchers, policymakers, service providers, and governments work together for and with the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities so that they may take the lead in efforts to develop programs, knowledge, resources, and policies that enhance their mental health and wellbeing. The Investigaytors program is a tremendous success in this regard, and we are very grateful for the government and CBRC’s support.”
In addition to reaching 13,000 2SLGBTQI+ individuals through this project, CBRC is also developing and mobilizing 2SLGBTQI+ mental health resources to increase the knowledge and capacity of 11,000 stakeholders, including health care providers and policymakers, to design and deliver culturally competent and safe care for 2SLGBTQI+ populations.
“For many 2SLGBTQI+ people, being able to access safe spaces or affirming support can make a world of difference in terms of our mental health,” said Michael Kwag, Director, CBRC. “With the rise in anti-trans and queer hate, and the pandemic’s ongoing impact on community services and spaces, it is critical that the 2SLGBTQI+ community sector is better equipped to respond to the unique mental health needs in our communities. This funding is an important step towards ensuring that 2SLGBTQIA+ communities across Canada are able to meet this challenge.”
Jack Lawrence, a participant in the Investigaytors Toronto-based program, says his experience in the initiative helped him understand how community-based research — research done with communities, rather than on communities — could benefit queer people.
“Historically, researchers have exploited and harmed the people they studied by not operating on behalf of those people’s best interests. But in community-based research, the wellbeing of the people studied is of the upmost importance,” says Lawrence.
Participating in Investigaytors also introduced him to a community of mentors and peers “who wanted to use science and research to improve the lives of other queer guys and queer people in general.”
“I was so lucky to form these relationships during the peak of the pandemic,” he says. “These connections reinforced my mental wellness, and I’m grateful that those friendships continue to this day.”
View the video from the announcement, below.
Photo, top (left to right): Professor David Brennan; Dean Charmaine Williams; the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health; Michael Kwag, Director, CBRC; Jack Lawrence, Investigaytors participant.
All photos by Harry Choi