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The Support is Essential program aims to provide BIPOC/QTBIPOC young women and gender diverse youth ages 17-30 in the Greater Montreal Area access to mental health support and raise awareness of alternative forms of wellness care. Particularly for those who lack access and face stigma in their community when seeking mental health support. We believe that this program will extend the definition of community and give us the opportunity to build supportive communities together.

Program Objectives:

  • Create support networks between young racialized people with lived experiences of misogyny

  • Provide alternative mental health support systems through art therapy to address the needs that have been made apparent in this pandemic

  • Co-create an artistic project, with participants and community actors 

  • Raise awareness related to mental health struggles of youth



In 2020-2021, the Support is Essential project has enabled us to address the diverse mental health needs of our community of young women and gender diverse youth. First of all, we were able to provide grants to 15 people that covered 80% of the cost of seven one-on-one sessions with a mental health professional, much needed support in times of COVID-19. This was done in partnership with Marbella Carlos, art therapist, as well as the Access-Sexology Clinic.


In addition, we offered two weekly therapeutic groups led by Éli Abdellahi, also an art-therapist. These two groups, Anglophone and Francophone, took place alternately, with different themes each week. Over the course of the groups, "the participants were able to cultivate resilience, self-compassion and mindfulness. The participants were able to feel seen, recognized and welcomed."


Eight circles of support and creative sharing led by CosmiqueTea followed. Other facilitator artists joined the project, including Powetik, Lotus Collective, Mags and Marlene Hale. The exchanges during the circles were always rich, funny, emotional, spiritual and touching. This pandemic amplified the common need of participants to reconnect with their cultures and ancestors, to speak out about similar situations of oppression and to know ritual tools to combat anxiety, among others. This process of creative support led to the creation of a zine entitled: Healing Guide


In all, 84 radical self-care baskets were donated to young women and gender diverse youth in Montreal. Thanks to the project, a strong community network has been woven between community organizations and the population most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.


The Support is Essential was supported by the Emergency Fund for Community support of the Government of Canada and the Foundation of Greater Montreal and is now funded by the McCall MacBain Foundation.

For more information about the program:

Alison Abrego
Programs and Mobilization Manager

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