Bell Let’s Talk: Starting the conversation about Canada’s mental health

By Alicia Ardelli

As mental illness is slowly becoming de-stigmatized and less taboo in our daily lives, we have organizations and programs like Bell Let’s Talk to thank. Through their initiatives, the organization has paved the way to start the conversation about Canada’s mental health.

When Bell Let’s Talk began this new conversation in 2010, it was at a dire time when millions were suffering in silence due to mental illness. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), one in ve Canadians will live with a mental illness at some point in their lifetime.

The eye-opening statistics of the country’s distress was a call-to-action on the matter and engaged millions of Canadians, including celebrated personalities, into a massive open discussion about mental illness.

Alexis Lahorra, 22, is one such Canadian. As a Concordia University Communication Studies undergraduate student and leader of the Concordia chapter of – a national non-profit youth mental health organization – Lahorra praises important organizations like Bell Let’s Talk because they keep the conversation going.

“These [campaigns] are ways to end the silence and to illustrate that help is available and that it is okay to not be okay,” Lahorra says.

Bell Let’s Talk in particular takes it a step further by dedicating one whole day each year to raising awareness and expanding the national conversation on mental health. On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Canadians can do their part in participating in the conversation on mental health by using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on social media. For every time the hashtag is posted, five cents is donated to various mental health programs across the country.

Moreover, for those whose mobile service provider is Bell, every text that is sent and every phone call that is made on the designated day will contribute five cents as well. In the past six years, the campaign has donated nearly $80 million to mental health initiatives.

From six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes to funnyman Howie Mandel, the awareness campaign has no shortage of spokespeople supporting it.

In sharing her testimonial with the Bell Let’s Talk 2017 Campaign, Lahorra intends to demonstrate the validity of the feelings of those suffering through mental illness. Her hope for the future, like many other recognized figures who have shared their stories with the campaign, is to live in a world where people don’t have to suffer in silence and where people get access to the help they deserve.

For a lot of us, it is extremely easy to get lost in our feelings and personal problems and we often forget that those around us are going through their own struggles. Sometimes all it takes is a little kindness and empathy to make someone feel a lot less alone in the world.

“A small gesture can go a long way,” Lahorra says.

This year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day engaged 131,705,010 million tweets, texts, calls, Instagram posts, and video views meaning Bell will donate $6,585,250.50 more towards mental health initiatives in Canada.

For more information on how you can be a part of the conversation to combat the stigma surrounding mental illness, please visit their website.

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