Meet Kareen Aristide.
Mental health supports like the Mental Health Commission of Canada offers made a world of difference for Kareen.
Kareen Aristide remembers the frustration and stress of being rejected for job after job because she was pregnant. “No one seemed willing to see past my pregnancy to my deep qualifications.” Having arrived in Canada from Haiti as an infant, Kareen has felt discriminated against more for her gender than anything else, and that drove her to strike out in business on her own, contributing later to a mental health challenge.
“As an entrepreneur and mom of five kids, I was burning the candle at both ends trying to do enough. Then one day I literally crashed my car into a house and realized I was completely burned out.” Pressures she felt as a working mother added to feelings of isolation that Kareen believes could have been avoided with better mental health supports rooted in principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).
To Kareen, EDI means respecting differences and being open to receiving a differing point of view without being offended by it or excluding it. It also means recognizing that everyone has a unique context, and not rushing to label anyone. “Concepts like culture and ethnicity are fluid and individual,” says Kareen, “so we can’t assume that, for example, another black person has the same context as I do.”
Now a passionate and successful human behaviour and mental health practitioner, Kareen is optimistic. “It’s encouraging to see that, increasingly, mental health supports are being tailored to the needs of the individual.” Kareen appreciates that health charities like the Mental Health Commission of Canada are recognizing that mental health supports cannot be one-size-fits-all, and are responding in kind, calling for an Integrated and Comprehensive Equity Framework for Mental Health Policy and Programming.
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