Free service helps people easily find BIPOC therapists across Canada

May 6 2021, 4:54 pm

In case you didn’t know, it’s Mental Health Week (May 3 to 9) and Healing in Colour is dedicated to supporting BIPOC healing during this week and beyond.

Healing in Colour (HIC) is a free Vancouver-based mental health service that provides access to BIPOC therapists across Canada who are committed to understanding the lived experiences of BIPOC.

Although based out of BC, clients can access the resources and therapists in other provinces such as Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and more.

The service was founded by Yasmin Hajian, president of HIC, and Premala Matthen, executive director of HIC. Aside from this platform, Hajian and Matthen are trained therapists who run their own independent practices.

Matthen (left) and Hajian (right) Photo: Anita Cheung

Representation matters in therapy 

Hajian and Matthen were inspired to start this service knowing how difficult it was for BIPOC to find mental health care and providers who understood their lived experiences without causing more harm.

“The industry is so white-dominated, and we felt like we needed to make it easier because there’s already so many barriers that make it difficult for BIPOC to connect with providers that would best serve them,” Matthen said.

“White therapists may be dismissive of our experiences, such as racism, and sometimes do not understand the nuances of a situation or cultural issues.”

Their service has a directory of BIPOC therapists who have agreed with their statement of values, such as being pro-trans, pro-Indigenous, pro-Black, pro-sex workers, and more.

“It’s not just about being BIPOC as a therapist but having this analysis of structural power and systems of oppression so that we can really support clients who are being targeted by those systems,” Matthen said.

Barriers to mental health services

Access to adequate and affordable mental health services is still a work-in-progress for BIPOC.

Many BIPOC are significantly impacted by health disparities but do not have the financial means to have access to proper health services that are indicative of who they are.

Healing in Colour aims to help with the financial barrier of therapy for BIPOC as well.

“We have recently become a registered non-profit, and are finding unique ways to get funding to pay for BIPOC to go to therapy, and also to pay BIPOC practitioners their full wage,” she said.

Matthen said that the wealth gap is often what leads to a lack of BIPOC therapists in the community.

This is because BIPOC are often less likely to be able to afford schooling programs to become therapists and also find it too financially risky to have their own independent practices.

Photo: Anita Cheung

Through Healing in Colour, Hajian and Matthen are listening to different intersections of the community to better understand how to help.

“Especially now with the pandemic, there’s a huge need for mental health support, and mental health providers are exhausted … so the more that we can listen and take care of each other, the more we are able to support the BIPOC in our community.”

Head to their website to learn more about Healing in Colour.

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