By Edward Baruela
Today marks Bell Let’s Talk Day – the day to recognize and spread mental health awareness across Canada. For every text message and call made on a Bell Mobile phone, each tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and each share of the campaign’s Facebook image, Bell Canada will donate five cents toward mental health initiatives.
Bell Let’s Talk started in September 2010 as a philanthropic initiative by Bell Canada’s parent company, BCE Inc., to address mental health in Canada. Its focus was to support research, improve access to care and address psychological health and workplace safety.
To date, the annual campaign has raised more than $73 million. In 2015 Bell announced it had extended the program for at least another five years, promising a minimum of $100 million for the cause.
Olympic athlete Clara Hughes spearheads the campaign. The cycling and speed-skating medallist shares her personal struggles with depression in an effort to combat the stereotypes associated with mental illness. Other Canadian celebrities to join the effort include sportscaster Michael Landsberg, comedian Mary Walsh, former TV host Howie Mandel and singer Serena Ryder.
In addition to its celebrity supporters, the campaign features a series of thought-provoking TV commercials and YouTube videos that use perspective imagery to illustrate people’s struggles with mental health in the workplace.
However, the real success of the campaign relies on the awareness the public shows by communicating their support.
Last year’s 122 million mobile calls and texts, tweets and Facebook shares demonstrated the growing need to address mental health issues in Canada. It also meant Bell donated an additional $6.1 million.
Beyond the funds raised and the celebrity advocacy of these issues, Bell Let’s Talk uses social media to break the silence. It gives people the chance to have an open dialogue about mental health, bringing us one step closer to ending the stigma.
For more information, go to letstalk.bell.ca and join the conversation.