February and Forever: Across Boundaries
Today, we’re shining a light on one of Humber River Hospital’s community partners, Across Boundaries. They are an organization that serves the black community and are leaders in providing equitable, holistic mental health and addiction services for racialized communities. They believe in empowering individuals to take control of their health in their healing journeys.
“All our services and programs are developed for Black and racialized communities. Over half of the people that use our services are Black. More importantly, we incorporate anti-racism, anti-oppression and anti Black racism frameworks in all our services,” explains Aseefa Sarang, Executive Director at Across Boundaries.
“Across Boundaries believes that understanding the social determinants of mental health is essential in therapeutic encounters with clients. It is crucial that we not only understand the cultures, but we comprehend the current social realities that impacts their health and well-being.”
Across Boundaries Achievements
Just like every organization, the pandemic brought numerous challenges. Aseefa said that COVID-19 shone a spotlight on the disparities in mental health for racialized and Black communities, food insecurities, and the repercussions from the tragedy that shook the world – the very public murder of George Floyd. However, they rallied, came together, and continued the work for which they were founded.
She added that many of the people that Across Boundaries serves didn’t have food, a phone, and/or a data plan during these times.
“With the help of our funders and Telus, we distributed cellphones so that people could stay connected. Our agency began offering daily culturally appropriate food hampers, hot meals and groceries to African, Black, and Caribbean members in the community. Agency staff went to parks and other public places to connect with those who may be homeless or without support and connected them to the meal program and counsellors for additional services.”
Across Boundaries even expanded their hours to provide support six days a week and 12 hours a day during these difficult times.
“We continued to provide a circle of care by remaining open, available, and accessible to the Black and racialized people we serve,” Aseefa said.
Across Boundaries Programs
Across Boundaries has had many requests to provide Anti-Black racism/Anti-oppression corporate training to other organizations. Due to this, they are excited to have recently hired a full-time trainer to share more knowledge and to create a greater systemic change.
“Across Boundaries believes in the importance of holistic practices in aiding people along their mental health healing journeys by incorporating complementary programs and techniques that support the mind body connection. We have various upcoming online health programs from meditation, to yoga to nutrition to employment, and so much more. They are all available online and free for Black and racialized communities,” Aseefa said.
They are also in the process of launching Our Stories, Our Voices: Black LGBTQ+ Mental Health Leadership Program, a 17-week immersive fellowship centred on intersectional mental health and the Spring instalment of Inhale/Exhale – feel-good, heart-centred, and free programming for the Queer & Trans Black, Indigenous, & People of Colour (QTBIPOC) will be kicking off shortly.
Collaborating with Humber River Hospital
In addition to the programs that Across Boundaries has available, Aseefa said that they are really excited to be a part of the Northwest Toronto Ontario Health Team, in which Humber River Hospital is a key partner.
“We’ve already started working together with Humber River Hospital on many initiatives, including health equity. We’re looking forward to collaborating on many more projects that will not only be beneficial to the diverse communities in the Northwest Toronto area, but will also aim to address the very real systemic barriers to care that the community experiences.”
For more information on Across Boundaries, please visit their website at www.acrossboundaries.ca