Islamic Relief Canada and York University Researchers call for more accessible mental health services for racialized women

Research study analyses pandemic’s impact on the mental health of racialized communities

BURLINGTON, ON - Islamic Relief Canada, in partnership with researchers at York University’s School of Public Policy and Administration, is releasing a new research report called, “Who gets to Heal? The negative mental health outcomes of COVID-19 on racialized working women.”

Supported by the Mitacs Accelerate research program, the report reveals that racialized women in the study have been struggling the most to recover from the effects of the pandemic two years later. Online surveys show that the mental health of racialized working women drastically declined as participants reported further deterioration in every negative mental health outcome. Our research exposes the stark gap between the causes of marginalized groups’ poor mental health and the capacity of mental health services to understand and respond to that.

Reyhana Patel, Director of Communications and Government Relations at Islamic Relief Canada says:

This report shows us the difficulties racialized women faced and are still facing during the pandemic. Access to mental health services remains a huge challenge with our research showing that mental health and healing from the pandemic is a luxury and privilege that is only accessible to those with the financial means to do so.

While there were many factors that resulted in the deterioration of racialized women’s mental health, the primary issues were job loss, managing childcare and paid employment, precarious work situations, as well as the cultural stigma toward mental health and illness.

“As our research shows, it is important to invest more in the wellness of racialized women, not as a means of being reactive but proactive when situations like a pandemic arise,” says Grace Barakat, lead researcher and PhD Candidate at York University.

Based on the findings of the report, Islamic Relief Canada is making several recommendations, including:

  • Ensuring that mental health services are accessible, culturally sensitive to racial minorities, and offered in many different languages.
  • Integrate more culturally-sensitive public awareness campaigns into communities and educational spaces to end the stigma of mental health.
  • Broaden the understanding of mental health in provincial health and education curriculums for elementary and middle-school students to include its connection to societal health.
  • Integrate community-based non-physician/psychiatrist mental health provider services into provincial healthcare programs (i.e. OHIP) in a similar manner to other healthcare-related services (e.g., doctor appointments).
  • Remove caps and increase limits on employment benefit plans for mental health services.
  • Add immediate targeted adjustments to the Canada-Wide Early Learning and Childcare System that subsidizes childcare options for racialized women and other vulnerable populations

The full report can be viewed here. To arrange media interviews with Reyhana Patel or Grace Barakat, please contact Mariam Nouser, Communications Coordinator, at [email protected] or 647-244-9669.

About Islamic Relief Canada
Islamic Relief Canada is a registered charity in Canada and Canada’ largest Muslim NGO that works in more than 30 countries to provide humanitarian relief and build resilient, prosperous communities. Visit for more information.