Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Orchard, Treena


This qualitative study explores the mental health experiences of African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) youth in London, Ontario, investigating how the factors of race, gender, culture, and place have shaped their perceptions and experiences of mental health. The data collection and analysis were conducted using a phenomenological approach and a critical lens informed by feminist, intersectionality, and critical race theories. These data illuminate the ways in which these young people’s attitudes toward mental health and help-seeking strategies are impacted by broader social constructs and community expectations, which they navigate and often resist in their everyday lives. Their insights can provide assurance to ACB youth in other Canadian cities that they are not isolated in their experiences. These data also contribute new knowledge to the emerging literature on Black youth across the African and Caribbean diaspora and may be used to inform future mental health policies and programs in Canada.

Summary for Lay Audience

This thesis explores how the mental health of African, Caribbean, and Black (ACB) youth in London, Ontario has been understood and affected by their identities. Interviews were carried out with thirteen young women and two young men (n=15) between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one. Field notes were also recorded to capture additional data related to the participants’ study experiences and personal reflections of the researcher as the project unfolded. The data reveal an array of meanings and experiences related to mental health in the lives of ACB youth. The participants spoke about feeling pressured to adhere to restrictive socio-cultural norms regarding gender and health, the informal and formal strategies they used to seek help, and the barriers related to the uptake of mental health services. They expressed frustration with their own mental health experiences and the level of associated stigma in their communities and recommended increased representation of ACB counselors, professionals, and resources. This study reveals how ACB youth navigate their racialized and gendered identities and understand mental health in a predominantly white, small-medium sized Canadian city. Given the little research available on the barriers and experiences faced by Black youth, the findings of this study will contribute to the literature, especially in a Canadian context and of youth in cities with smaller ACB populations. Their insights can provide a sense of assurance to ACB youth in London and other Canadian cities that there is potential in addressing the stigma, encouraging one another to seek help, and changing the cultural narrative of mental health in the younger generations of ACB people.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.