In collaboration with one another, the Office of Quality Initiatives, the Department of Equity and Inclusive Communities, and the Centre for Indigenous Initiatives hosted a panel discussion focused on the themes of racism and mental health. The specific focus of the session is on how racial discrimination impacts mental health of individuals and communities, as well as the way it can complicate access to mental health supports. We are delighted to have three speakers for this event: Nagad Hersi, Dr. Dennis Kao and Dana Wesley.

Nagad Hersi – Nagad Hersi is an African, Caribbean Black Mental Health Outreach Worker at Somerset West Community Health Centre. She actively focuses on Primary Health & Regional Programs aimed at Silencing the Stigma of Black Mental Health. Driven by her passion and commitment to address systemic barriers around accessing mental health services, Nagad has worn several hats within the community to advocate for equity and diversity. She is an experienced community developer, program facilitator, researcher and more recently, a mental health counsellor. Nagad works closely with clients and community members from a person-centred and trauma-informed framework when advocating for individuals who are navigating the challenges imposed by systemic barriers.

Dr. Dennis Kao – Dr. Dennis Kao is an Associate Professor in Carleton University’s School of Social Work. Dr. Kao’s research interests include: Health equity, minority aging, Asian immigrant communities, aging- friendly communities and geographic information systems & spatial analysis.

Dana Wesley – Dana is a member of Moose Cree First Nation and grew up in her homelands. She completed her undergraduate and Master’s degree in Gender Studies at Queen’s University. Dana’s graduate thesis highlighted the lived experiences of urban Two-Spirit youth and community building. As a Two-Spirit woman, Dana is also dedicated to Two-Spirit and Indigenous LGBTQ resurgence and access to traditional cultural spaces and ceremonies. For over ten years she has worked in the fields of health, education, equity and human rights, diligently working with Indigenous and non- Indigenous communities in many different roles advocating for positive change. Most recently, she holds the position of Senior Human Rights Officer (Indigenous Issues) at the Canadian Union of Public Employees National Office in Ottawa.

This session is part of our ongoing work to foster Carleton’s institutional commitment to Anti-Racism, Indigenous Initiatives, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity, and to promote an engaged, informed and supportive culture on campus. To find out more, we invite you to check out Carleton University’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and Kinàmàgawin – Carleton’s Indigenous Strategy.

You can also find additional resources at the bottom of this page.

Additional Resources