At UBC Cancer Association, promoting health awareness and wellbeing beyond the physical aspect is at the top of our priorities. Spreading awareness about mental health issues is needed in order to break down age-old stigmas and stereotypes that prevent people from flourishing mentally and physically.
In fact, 1 in 5 people in Canada will experience a mental health issue or illness in their lives. Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression and anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
We must also acknowledge the severe effects of mental health issues in Indigenous communities, which have among the highest suicide rates globally. In Canada, First Nations people suicide rates are three times higher than the rate among non-Indigenous people. For suicide rates among Métis, this is twice as high, as for Inuit the rate, it is approximately nine times higher than the non-Indigenous rate.
In Canada, the fight to improve mental healthcare and its awareness is often associated and driven by an organization named Bell, a company that hosts the ever-successful mental health campaign “Bell Let’s Talk.” So what are they all about and where do I fit in? Glad you asked. Here is all you need to know to get involved.
First things first, what is Bell Let’s Talk and what do they do?
Since 2011, Bell Canada has continued to host their campaign Bell Lets Talk, one that is a play on words, with the company’s background in the telecommunication as well as adding to the idea of breaking out of stigma and speaking out and expressing oneself in relation to mental health.
Bell Lets Talk is the most committed and probably most successful campaign for mental health awareness in the country. Its momentum has continued to thrive and grow since they started and have raised hundreds of millions of dollars that they commit to mental health care, advocacy, and research.
Included in this campaign is their famous initiative “Bell Let’s Talk Day”, a yearly event that takes place on the 28th of January, whereby money can be donated by interacting on different social media and communication platforms, from posting on your favorite social media platforms, to suing their r hashtag #BellLetsTalk or even phoning in on the day.
What are their main principles?
There are four main pillars to their work. First is Anti-Stigma, which is to overcome the idea that speaking about mental health is a taboo and encourage change, awareness, and education. There’s something we could all do to help others and ourselves to reshape the conversation, including changing our own perceptions of healthcare or checking on loved ones.
Second is Care & Access. Bell helps an endless list of organizations from grass roots organizations to local hospitals and several institutions that ensure people have access to the facilities they rely on for mental health.
Next is Research, which means investing and funding research that allows for improvement in treatment and solutions to mental healthcare, and overall broadening the collective scientific understanding of mental health and related illnesses.
Last is Workplace Health. Bell reports that one in three workplace disability claims in Canada are related to mental illnesses. Bell is working to encourage greater corporate engagement and mental health training in the workplace to ensure people are aware and able to access the help they need.
And what about their impact?
Every year since Bell Let’s Talk Day started, they have continued to beat their previous record of interactions, accumulating a total of 1,168,302,700 interactions since 2011. Additionally, $113,415,135 have been committed to mental health initiatives and funding. This includes reaching demographics like Children & Youth, Indigenous communities and supporting Military families.
In addition, the organization has partnered with over 1100 organizations and companies are also part of the fight, and these organizations have helped 4,422,134 Canadians access the necessary mental health care services.
In addition to these funds, Bell Let’s Talk in July 2020 announced a new fund called the Diversity Fund which dedicates $5 million to support the mental health of those who are members of the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour communities across Canada. Super cool right?
So how can I get involved?
It’s simple. In the upcoming event of Bell Let’s Talk Day, go online and log into your favourite social media and interact with Bell Lets Talk Day marketing forums. This may include watching their videos online, tweeting or retweeting their posts, or even using the Snap Chat Bell Let’s talk filter. Each of these single interactions each donate 5¢ towards mental health initiatives.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can check out all the ways to get involved here. Additionally, Bell provides a toolkit that even includes a Conversation guide and ways to take care of your loved ones and connect for help and much more.
Being involved in the cause also means reflecting on your own actions. Part of Bell Let’s Talk’s campaign is recognizing and encouraging one to acknowledge their own mental health. This is especially important and relevant as we struggle to push through and handle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are guides to seeing signs of stress and ways you can take care of yourself and reach out for help.