KP02 – Structural Racism in the Environments We Provide Care

KP02 – Structural Racism in the Environments We Provide Care

Friday, Oct. 28
08:45 – 10:30 (1.5 hrs)
Meeting Room: Grand Ballroom (Lower Concourse)
Cornelia Wieman, MD, MSc, FRCPC; Notisha Massaquoi, MSW, PhD

CanMEDS Roles:

  1. Scholar
  2. Professional
  3. Health Advocate

At the end of this session, participants will be able to: 1) Develop greater awareness of the extent of anti-Indigenous racism in the health and mental health care systems and become familiar with resources available that psychiatrists can use to advance antiracism/cultural safety and humility in their practice; 2) Build awareness, create relevant strategies, and engage in immediate actions to address anti-Black racism within the healthcare and mental health system; and 3) Consider the commitment and courage that will be required to dismantle anti-Black racism within psychiatry both at the micro and macro levels.

This plenary will focus on two main areas of structural racism, anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism, in our healthcare system. Both presenters will provide insight into how these issues can be addressed and discuss approaches to reduce and dismantle racism in our clinical spaces.

The In Plain Sight Report documented widespread racism in British Columbia’s health system, which made achieving greater cultural safety & humility (CSH) for Indigenous people a priority. The Keegan Combes Case Study Reflection (CSR), was gifted in ceremony to the health system to consider what part healthcare practitioners may play in perpetuating structural racism and to alter their practice.  The CSR and CSH standard are tools that psychiatrists can use to address anti-Indigenous racism, in clinical and administrative practice. Further, the British Columbia Cultural Safety and Humility Standard, that was developed by Indigenous leaders and health professionals, is relevant to mental health systems as its purpose is to help build a culturally safe health care environment.

Studies show witnessing or being the target of anti-Black racism can have adverse effects on mental health and wellbeing.  Anti-Black racism is expressed in many forms, with members of Black communities frequently experiencing undue scrutiny in workplaces, schools, and during interactions with public institutions. It is known that Black community members experience difficulty in accessing mental health care and support, even disbelief from healthcare providers when expressing distress or trauma caused by anti-Black racism. These experiences can lead to or add to existing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Addressing the barriers and burdens of anti-Black racism on mental health begins with ensuring access to timely, appropriate, and culturally responsive mental health care.


  1. British Columbia Cultural Safety and Humility Standard.
  2. Cénat JM, Kogan C, Noorishad P, et al. Prevalence and correlates of depression among Black individuals in Canada: The major role of everyday racial discrimination. Depress Anxiety 2021; 38(9):886–895.