I probably don’t have to remind most of you that today is Bell Let’s Talk Day.
In a growing and powerful movement that’s both online and off, you’ve likely seen the initiative promoted on billboards, on city buses, and all over your newsfeeds.
If you haven’t, let us quickly run through the intuitive for you. Today, Bell Canada will donate 5 cents to support mental health initiatives for every long-distance call or text sent on the Bell network, and for each tweet with the #bellletstalk hashtag. Furthermore, with every Facebook share of today’s Bell Let’s Talk image, another 5 cents will be raised.
The day aims to shed light on the overlooked issue of mental illness and the lingering stigma that’s surrounded it for years.
Front and centre of the campaign are familiar Canadian faces like Olympian Clara Hughes, Howie Mandel, and Michael Landsberg – all of whom have struggled with mental illness.
Since its inception in 2010, Bell has donated more than $73 million to mental health initiatives across Canada under the program. In September, Bell renewed its commitment to Bell Let’s Talk for another 5 years and committed at least $100 million in total funding for Canadian mental health programs.
Of course, the millions raised are making a major impact in mental health-related organizations across the country, most of which need all the funding they can get.
That’s why Notable is so proud to announce the Notable Millennial Mental Health Project in association with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Inspired by the fantastic work Bell Let’s Talk is doing, we decided to follow their groundbreaking lead and support our fellow millennials who suffer every day in their bouts with mental illness. As a result, 100% of the proceeds from the Notable Awards will be donated to a new charitable project we are building in association with the Canadian Mental Health Association, a federal not-for-profit. This project that will help millennials suffering from mental health disorders get back into – and ultimately succeed in – the workforce.
And as one of the most powerful aspects of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign is the brave dialogue it inspires between people (namely millennials) “coming out” with their mental health issues, I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the Notable Millennial Mental Health Project.
The breaking down of the age-old stigma of mental health has never been more apparent. For that, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Already today, I have seen many young people take to social media to reveal their own struggles with things like anxiety, depression, addiction, and eating disorders. Though I’m well aware of the statistic that mental illness will affect one in five Canadians over their lifetime, and know all too well that mental illness doesn’t discriminate, I still find myself naively surprised by some of these posts.
Wow, I had no idea that she suffered from panic attacks; I can’t believe she of all people had an eating disorder; he is the last person I would peg to suffer from depression.
These are some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind so far today.
Even after losing a friend to suicide who appeared to have it all from the outside, and both spending time with and interviewing survivors of suicide attempts and depression, I am almost ashamed to admit my shock at the revelations of some of my social media “friends.”
Because, really, it should come as no surprise, especially given the statistics.
Mental illness touches each and every one of us; whether it’s glaringly obvious or not. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker, client, or local barista, someone you know is likely suffering at this very moment. Maybe you are.
But with each year of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, I witness the eroding of that harmful stigma surrounding mental illness with each “coming out” story on social media and in face-to-face dialogue.
Hopefully, in the next five years, this will inspire things like widespread educational programming in the elementary school level, better workplace policies to protect suffering employees, and for us all to take that extra moment to look someone in the eye and ask how they’re really feeling.