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'Centre of influence': Brothers Who Care bringing Black men together for a mental health and wellness retreat

On Saturday, Nov. 4, Brothers Who Care will hold their inaugural Care Leadership Development Alliance (CLDA) retreat in the Niagara Region.

'Centre of influence': Brothers Who Care bringing Black men together for a mental health and wellness retreat
David Griffith, founder and CEO of Brothers Who Care, is hosting the organization's first Care Leadership Development Alliance (CLDA) retreat in the Niagara Region on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Written by Simone Jennifer Smith, Black Dollar Magazine contributor

As he lay there in hospital, thoughts were racing through his mind.

There was so much to do in the Black community, and one thing that had always been top of mind for him was to raise awareness about men’s mental health, combat male-specific health disparities, and support men who have experienced trauma. David Griffith knew that Black men, like any other group, seek opportunities for networking, mentorship, and support in their personal or professional lives.

He thought about the impact of educating men and boys about essential life skills, including financial literacy, personal development, and leadership. Right there, lying in the hospital, Griffith knew what to do.

“Brothers Who Care, that’s it. I want to start an organization for Black men, by Black men,” the founder and CEO of the organization said. 

Just like that, Brothers Who Care was born. Its mission leverages the power of collective fundraising through a transparent, community-organized, and trusted decision-making process. It also directs its fundraising efforts to impact critical issues affecting the Black community.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, Brothers Who Care will hold their inaugural Care Leadership Development Alliance (CLDA) retreat in the Niagara Region. It will pick up at least 50 Black men from the parking lot at Lawrence Allen Centre at 8:00 a.m. and return at 10:00 p.m. The one-day retreat will incorporate self-reflection and introspection workshops, mindfulness and meditation practices, financial independence discussions, and, of course, its ever-popular Mental Health Hour. Griffth said the importance of the CLDA retreat is its potential to foster a sense of community, provide support, advocate for change, and empower individuals and the collective. Here, Black men can address various challenges and work toward positive personal and societal transformation, he says.

“It is our vision to equip and inspire Black men to be all they can be by drawing on the power of the collective and creating a centre of influence,” Griffith said. “Using our curated influence, we are mobilizing social, political, and economic growth and outcomes within the Black community.”

Griffith said the initiative is about creating a centre of influence to mobilize social, political and economic growth. He added that when Black men come together, there is a sense of community and solidarity. Togetherness can combat feelings of isolation and provide emotional support, which is particularly important given the challenges and systemic inequalities that Black men may face. 

With all of this in mind, Brothers Who Care has curated four pillars focused on building philanthropic leaders.

The Mental Health Hour talk series ignites and normalizes the discussion around mental health in the Black community. Colonialism, oppression, and clubs and continue to have a lasting impact on Black mental health. High unemployment rates, lack of medical services, and other forms of systemic inequity contribute to the many issues that Black men face. Over time, these issues have resulted in a mental health services gap.

A research paper titled "Shining a Light on Mental Health in Black Communities" by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), found that 38.3 per cent of Black Canadians with mental health issues used mental health services between 2001-2014 compared to 50.8 per cent of white Canadians. The MHCC is a Canadian national non-profit corporation that offers accessible training programs that support mental health in communities and workplaces and leads research and program initiatives.

Furthermore, the I SEE ME Club engages young people, parents, and professionals through compelling storytelling and positive imagery, driving awareness and building financial sustainability in the Black community. And the LEG-UP Secure Our Wealth program uses stories, images, and stimulating dialogue to inspire BIPOC individuals to break negative generational cycles regarding financial health.

In an article titled Aspirations and Engagement Strategies for Working with Young Black Men (Erica Davis, Diane Watt, and Carol Packham), the research indicated that peers and agencies such as youth clubs and community and voluntary organizations have an essential role in supporting and encouraging young people’s dreams. The research also established that young Black men have very high educational and career aspirations compared to some of their peers. However, their goals can be affected by changes in their lives related to their surroundings, which include peer pressure, gang culture, and the relevance of service provision to the needs of young Black people.

Finally, the “I AM” campaign showcases positive images and stories of Black men achieving personal and professional success.

“We believe that each man is created equal and should be treated as such. We are providing Black men the opportunity to rally together around the causes that matter most to us and our families. Our efforts are amplifying the voices and the impact of the leaders in our community through mentoring, coaching, and sponsorships. My goal is to have the CLDA be the go-to vehicle for Black men to network, create opportunities, and accelerate their personal and professional growth,” Griffith said. 

For over 15 years, Simone Jennifer Smith has been a noteworthy leader in the written media, creative design/social media, mental health, and education/mentoring spaces. You may know her as the columnist, talk show host, operations manager, and chief correspondent at Carib101 Media Group. But Simone can also be credited with contributions to the African-Caribbean community as project manager for Brothers Who Care, Clear Journey Inc. (located in Baltimore, United States), and vice chair at Emmanuel Life Management Centre. In addition, she is the founder of Hear 2 Help Inc., a community development company with services ranging from tutoring to adult learning, project management, life coaching, copywriting, content creation, copy editing, and business development.