BY JULIA BROWN
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 per cent of Canadians suffer from a mental health struggle. Suicide has become one of the leading causes of death in both men and women. This is an alarming statistic which is why Bell has been aiming to make a change.
On Jan. 25th, you have the chance to make a difference.
In 2010 Bell announced an event to help end the stigma around mental health. Bringing together celebrities and others to share their stories, the first Bell Let’s Talk day took place in 2011. This has ignited a movement that would make talking about mental illnesses more socially acceptable. With much success, Bell has continued to power this movement and raise awareness about mental health.
Sandy McDonald, regional director of community affairs for Bell, could not be happier with the results.
“Every year gets better and better. In 2016 we were thrilled that we had 125,915,295 calls, texts, tweets and shares on Bell Let’s Talk Day which generated a $6,295,764.75 to Canadian mental health programs. Add that to the original Bell Let’s Talk commitment of $50 million in 2010, along with the results of the first five Bell Let’s Talk Days, and Bell has now committed $79,919,178.55 to Canadian mental health.
“Bell announced in September of 2016 that we’ve extended Bell Let’s Talk to 2020 and committed to at least $100 million in funding for Canadian mental health – and based on continued growth and participation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, we are well on the way to greatly exceeding that number.” she explains.
“That first Bell Let’s Talk Day in 2011 was amazing because all of a sudden it seemed that everyone was talking and sharing. Those conversations have evolved and grown to a point where no matter where I go or what I do, people come up to me and share their story. The stigma really has been reduced so much and I think we’re seeing mental illness becoming somewhat normalized. There’s still a long way to go, but I think we’re miles ahead of where we were back there in September of 2010. This shift in attitudes and acceptance is incredibly rewarding.”
Students at Sheridan are also speaking out about their battles with mental health and how Bell Lets Talk has helped them.
Olga Shik, a second-year Athletic Therapy student, opened up about her experience with mental health and how important the day is.
“Bell Let’s Talk day makes a difference because it has opened up not only my eyes but everyone else’s on the different types of mental illness there is. They also help people become aware that many people that you see on a daily basis may be struggling with an inner demon that you would never know if Bell Lets Talk did not make the initiative to help and make people feel included.” she says.
“Reach out to anyone you feel comfortable with. There are numerous programs, and helping hands out there and even when they feel that they are alone, they really aren’t. Yes, taking the step to get help is hard but when you are with people that understand and know what you are going through, it makes the effort so much more rewarding.” Shik says to those who may be struggling.
Get your phones and social media ready for Jan. 25th to help make a difference.
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