According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada one in five people experience difficulty with their mental health. If we were to include families or caregivers, people’s experiences of mental health would “impact almost everyone in some way.” This is a concept emphasized in the Bell Let’s Talk’s 2019 campaign. Everyone is affected by mental health, whether personally or indirectly.
George A. Cope, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada says: “Bell Let’s Talk began a new conversation about Canada’s mental health [at a time when] most people were not talking about mental illness.”
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, since its inception in 2011, people are called to participate in conversations about mental health. By bringing mental health into the mainstream, the program continues to promote greater awareness of mental health stigma and helps many to talk more openly about their experiences.
Participation includes text; mobile or long-distance calls on Bell’s network; Twitter posts using #BellLetsTalk; watching the Bell Let’s Talk Day video on Instagram; using the Bell Let’s Talk frame on Facebook; or using the Bell Let’s Talk filter on Snapchat, each of which result in a five-cent donation from Bell towards Canadian mental health initiatives.
Bell has suggested some ways to help, to move toward less stigma: Namely, being sensitive regarding the language you use, educating yourself on a variety of mental health topics and initiating dialogue with friends and colleagues.
Statistics from a September 2015 telephone survey of 1007 randomly selected Canadians has found a shift in national opinion regarding mental health and stigma: 57% believe there has been a reduction in the stigma associated with mental health compared to four years ago, while 70% believe that “attitudes about mental health…have changed for the better” compared to five years ago. And 81% report they are “now more aware of mental health issues.”
In a study published in JMIR Mental Health, the authors found an increase in the rate of outpatient mental health service use for youth. That is, young people seem to feel more inclined to seek support for mental health. Child psychologist Phil Ritchie, at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario states “as people discuss mental health on a more regular basis, more pressure can be put on the system to provide for those in need…but we’d far rather have that as a problem.”
While Bell may have chosen “the right issue at the right time,” there still remains a need for more change, and for a system that not only recognizes, prevents, and protects mental health, but one that also takes action.
Benjamin Leikin, mental health project officer at Ottawa Public Health says, “there would be a risk in thinking that this in itself is enough. This is definitely a good starting point, and this is a great lead off for us as a community, as a country.”
-Amanda Costabile, Contributing Writer
Feature: Michael Summers at Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
First: Michael Summers at Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Second: Maritè Toledo at Flickr, Creative Commons, some rights reserved