Bell Let’s Talk Day – January 30th

In September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk began a new conversation about Canada’s mental health. At that time, most people were not talking about mental illness. But the numbers spoke volumes about the urgent need for action. Millions of Canadians engaged in an open discussion about mental illness, offering new ideas and hope for those who struggle, with numbers growing every year.

Bell has committed to donate at least $100 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations, large and small, from coast to coast focusing on anti-stigma, care and access, workplace mental health and research.

bell lets talk 2019

As a result, institutions and organizations large and small in every region received new funding for access, care and research from Bell Let’s Talk and from governments and corporations that have joined the cause. Bell’s total donation to mental health programs stands at over $93.4 million.

On January 30th, Bell is donating 5 cents for each text message, mobile and long-distance call made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers before midnight . The company will also donate 5 cents for:

  • Twitter: Every tweet using #BellLetsTalk and Bell Let’s Talk Day video view
  • Facebook: Every view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video at Facebook.com/BellLetsTalk and use of the Bell Let’s Talk frame
  • Instagram: Every Bell Let’s Talk Day video view
  • Snapchat: Every use of the Bell Let’s Talk geofilter and video view

There are important reasons to start talking about mental illness. Hard to see, mental illness is one of the most widespread health issues in the country, with consequences for everyone. While one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life, most will be cautious about talking to a co-worker, friend or family member about the issue, let alone seek treatment. And while you may not experience mental illness first-hand, it is likely that you know someone who has or will have a mental illness. For anyone facing mental illness, stigma is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. In fact, it is the leading reason why two-thirds of people living with a mental illness do not seek help.

Many studies have found that media and the entertainment industry play a key role in shaping public opinions about mental health and illness. People with mental health conditions are often depicted as dangerous, violent and unpredictable. News stories that sensationalize violent acts by a person with a mental health condition are typically featured as headline news; while there are fewer articles that feature stories of recovery or positive news concerning similar individuals.

There are significant consequences to the public misperceptions and fears. Stereotypes about mental health conditions have been used to justify bullying.

Some individuals have been denied adequate housing, health insurance and jobs due to their history of mental illness. Due to the stigma associated with the illness, many people have found that they lose their self-esteem and have difficulty making friends. Sometimes, the stigma attached to mental health conditions is so pervasive that people who suspect that they might have a mental health condition are unwilling to seek help for fear of what others may think.
The STOP criteria can be used to recognize attitudes and actions that support the stigma of mental health conditions. Just ask yourself if what you hear:

  • Stereotypes people with mental health conditions (that is, assumes they are all alike rather than individuals)?
  • Trivializes or belittles people with mental health conditions and/or the condition itself?
  • Offends people with mental health conditions by insulting them?
  • Patronizes people with mental health conditions by treating them as if they were not as good as other people?

Start with yourself. Be thoughtful about your own choice of words. Use accurate and sensitive words when talking about people with mental health conditions. Educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs. Importantly, know that sometimes it’s best to just listen.

Adapted from: Let’s Talk – Bell  & CMHA.ca