On Wednesday, January 30, Bell Let’s Talk Day will sweep the nation for the ninth time, working, as it has since 2010, to destigmatize mental health issues and offer support to those in need.
What Bell Let’s Talk Day does for mental health
On Let’s Talk Day, for each applicable tweet, text, call, social media video view, Facebook frame and Snapchat filter Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives. Previous recipients here in British Columbia include The Canadian Bipolar Association (North Vancouver) and West Coast family centres (Vancouver). Bell’s total donation to mental health programs now stands at over $86.5 million.
A broad spectrum of mental health tools
For the purposes of this post, I took a more in-depth look at the Let’s Talk website than I had before and I discovered that this initiative is much broader than I realized. Bell Let’s Talk is its own mental health resource, offering everything from thought provoking statistics (my favourite being that 4 out of 5 Canadians are more aware of mental health issues since Let’s Talk began) to a toolkit including PDFs for teachers and conversation guides for those who aren’t sure how to talk to someone with a mental illness.
A personal resonance
This resonates with me on a visceral level, because I have struggled with mental illness since childhood. From anxiety and depression to OCD and PTSD, I have firsthand experience with the often unbearable pain caused by mental illness. When I was first affected, the mental health conversation was virtually non-existent, and the stigma attached to it was almost palpable. Treatment, in my experience, was mostly a visit with a psychiatrist and then some medication - a band aid solution without getting to the root of the problem. I remember very non-empathetic students and teachers, and most adults in my life being incapable of understanding or supporting something that so little was known about. I was also failed by the mental health system at that time. I spent many lonely and desperate nights, quite literally wishing that there was better help, better resources, and more compassion.
Changing the conversation
Since then, we have made leaps and bounds in realizing the importance of mental health. More people now understand that mental illnesses are in fact illnesses, and that telling someone with mental illness to “shake it off” or “suck it up”, or that “it’s all in their head” is akin to saying this to someone with epilepsy or any physiological ailment. This is partly because of research and new scientific developments, partly because mental illness is becoming more and more common in these chaotic and often stressful times, and partly because of initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk bringing mental health to the forefront and encouraging discussion, rather than shame. Bell has utilized its massive platform to address the very important topic of mental health, one that many people still avoid speaking about.
A beacon of hope
We have much work to do on the road to truly destigmatizing mental illness and ensuring that those affected have access to the help they require to get well, but Bell Let’s Talk is certainly helping to blaze a trail, introducing a beacon of hope to those in need. I’m thankful that we finally live in a time when a corporate giant like Bell is prioritizing something as vital as mental health. Do you plan to participate in Bell Let’s Talk day on January 30? Find out more by visiting the Let's Talk website.
Stephanie is a professional writer and photographer residing in North Vancouver with her husband and five-year-old daughter. She grew up in Ontario, but considers British Columbia to be her true home. Having attended the journalism program at George Brown college in Toronto, Stephanie’s writing career has included music journalism works with the likes of Canadian Musician Magazine and Professional Sound Magazine, and she has written blogs and content/copywriting for various fashion, beauty and lifestyle publications and brands around the world.
Stephanie owns The Imperative Image, an affordable photography service for professionals. As a wellness advocate and a proud North Shore resident, Stephanie is thrilled to contribute to the NVRC Active Living Blog.