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Illustration cred: Marissa Betley

When the rainbow isn’t enuf — finding mental health care in Toronto as a queer person of colour

Sarah Hamdi
Jul 18, 2017 · 2 min read

When things first started falling apart for me, I was totally at a loss for where to turn for help. If anyone would know where to find help, it should have been me — I’d been working in the social service sector in Toronto since I was 17. And yet…I could not find a therapist. I didn’t know where to start.

I needed help navigating a mother who had threatened to commit suicide if I moved out, an extended family that said they would blame me if she did, and the extremely abusive queer relationship I had fallen into. I was in crisis, and despair.

On one hand, any therapist can support someone through a crisis. It is what they are trained to do. On the other hand — I was too fragile and exhausted to go through a therapy experience where I had to explain to someone why immigrant families can be unreasonable, ridiculous, extra dramatic, and operate on their own cultural logic. Or be told that abuse can’t happen in queer relationships. I needed someone who understood how immigrant families worked and how queer relationship dynamics function without me having to spell it out or have my experiences seen as exotic.

And I had no idea what my options were. Eventually, I figured it out by getting referrals from friends and health providers and doing research online. But it was hard, involved trial and error, and so much time, which is a luxury most people don’t have when they are in crisis.

Since then, I’ve made this list which I have been emailing to anyone who asks (approx. 2–3 times a year). To be clear — this resource is for anyone, but particularly for queer people & women of colour. If you have any suggestions, please leave comments or make a Pull Request and I’ll review.

I hope this helps you get support quicker than I did.

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