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Bell Let's Talk 2016

Melanie Luxenberg

International Bipolar Foundation is participating in the 2016 Bell Let’s Talk Initiative, which is taking place on January 27, 2016. 

How does it work? 

Bell Let’s Talk is a Canadian mental health initiative that encourages participants to have an open conversation about mental health using social media. For every text message, wireless call and long distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Alliant Customers, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs.  Bell is Canada’s largest communications company and Bell Media is Canada is Canada’s premier multimedia company. 

What if you are not a Bell customer or do not live in Canada? Don’t worry, you can still participate! Bell will also donate 5 cents for every tweet or retweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and also for every Facebook share of that day’s Bell Let’s Talk Day’s images from the official Facebook page

Funding goes to front-line mental health organizations in every region of Canada including organizations like the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Bell True Patriot Love Fund which supports Canadian military families. 

You can download the official toolkit here: http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/toolkit/ 

Who is involved?

The Bell Let’s Talk national spokesperson is Olympic medalist, Clara Hughes and she is joined by spokespeople, TSN host Michael Landsberg, comedian Howie Mandel, entertainer Mary Walsh and Quebec personalities Stefie Shock and Michel Mpambara. New to the team are singer/songwriter Serena Ryder, actress Marie-Soliel Dion and CFL player Etienne Boulay. Other Bell Let’s Talk ambassadors are professional golfer Andrew Jensen, comedian/writer Kevin Breel, CFL veteran Shea Emry and musician Robb Nash who welcome Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock and singer-songwriter Sean McCann. 

The Bell Let’s Talk Team will be openly sharing their own mental health experiences as they encourage Canadians and social media users to join the conversation. 

For the 3rd year in a row, Healthy Minds Canada, a national charitable organization that raises funds to support mental health research and education is lending its support to the Bell Lets Talk campaign. The @Healthy_Minds/#BellLetsTalk initiative is a social media campaign designed to promote Bell Let’s Talk Day and to increase the online discussion about mental health challenges during the month of January. To find out more, visit Healthy Minds Canada’s website. 

The objectives of Healthy Minds Canada’s campaigns include to: 

  • Contribute to the mental health discussion on social media, encourage dialogue, raise awareness and foster understanding 
  • Provide a platform for people with mental health challenges; raise their voice 
  • Engage a diverse audience in the mental health discussion 
  • Support Bell’s efforts to raise funds for mental health research and service delivery 

To help Healthy Minds Canada, when you send a tweet or retweet on Twitter, use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and @ mention Healthy Minds Canada by mentioning their Twitter handle, @Healthy_Minds – be sure to include that in every post! 

Why is it important? 

Bell Let’s Talk Day is about increasing awareness, reducing stigma, helping to change behaviours and attitudes about mental health issues. 

Consider the statistics: (Some facts courtesy of the Bell Let’s Talk website)

  • 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life (Canadian Institute of Health Research)
  • 2 in 3 people suffer in silence fearing judgment and rejection (Canadian Medical Association)
  • Only 49% of Canadians said they would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness (Canadian Medical Association)
  • 27% of Canadians are fearful of being around people who suffer from serious mental illness (Canadian Medical Association)
  • Mental health problems and illnesses also account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism (The Mental Health Commission of Canada)
  • Mood and anxiety disorders impact an estimated 22% of the Canadian population (CMHA)
  • At this very moment, some 3 millions Canadians are suffering form depression (CMHA)
  • Every day 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a form of mental illness (Mental Health Commission of Canada)

Mental Health Initiative:

The Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative centres around 4 pillars:

1. Anti-Stigma

Stigma is a big hurdle for anyone suffering from a mental illness and is the number one reason why two-thirds of those living with a mental illness do not seek help.  Bell Let’s Talk awareness campaign and Bell Let’s Day opens the national conversation about mental illness across Canada. It is about growing the dialogue on mental health.

2. Care & Access

Bell Canada supports a variety of organizations. Only one-third of those who need mental health-related services in Canada will receive treatment. This is due to the stigma associated with mental illness or because they do not have access to programs in their community.

3. Workplace Health

Mental health is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and represents 15% of Canada’s burden of disease. Bell practices workplace health and encourages greater corporate engagement across Canada.

4. Research

Bell is investigating in the best-in-class research programs with the potential to have a transformative impact on Canadians. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are affected by mental illness. It is expected by 2020 that mental illness will be the leading cause of disability on the planet.

The Impact of Stigma: 

With the 2015 Bell Let’s Talk Campaign, Bell introduced 5 ways to help end stigma (information provided by Bell Let’s Talk site):

1. Language Matters:

  • Why? Because while words can be comforting, words can also be hurtful and it’s important to pay attention to the words you use.
  • How to Help: By explaining to friends, relatives and colleagues that using words like “psycho” or “crazy” without thinking can be hurtful and provide an alternative view.

2. Educate Yourself:

  • Why? Unfortunately there are many myths that exist about mental illness that contribute to stigma.
  • How to Help: Learn the facts about mental illness.
  • By learning more, knowing more, and becoming knowledgeable, you can help fight stigma with facts.

3. Be Kind:

  • Why? Small acts of kindness speak volumes.
  • How to Help: Don’t stand by if someone is being labeled or bullied.
  • Treat a person who has a mental illness with the kindness and care you give to people with other illnesses (i.e. physical illnesses) through a friendly smile, a helping hand, a phone call or a visit. Let them know you care.

4. Listen and Ask:

  • Why? Sometimes it’s best to just listen.
  • How to Help: Don’t trivialize someone’s illness. A suggestion is, “I’m sorry to hear that, it must be a difficult time. Is there anything I can do to help?”

5. Talk About It:

  • Why? Start a dialogue, not a debate.
  • How: Break the silence. Talk about how mental illness touches us all in same way, be it directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of lived experience are the best way to help eradicate stigma.
  • Support mental health and anti-stigma programs in your community.

 

 

 

Comments

First I now react strongly to the popular statement" I am bipolar". Nobody says "I am cancer" or "I am diabetes""(both of which I've had or still have). This terminology ironically re-enforces the stigma, as if our mental illness was an inborn character trait without change or improvement.

Second, we should all own our illness, not proudly but with acceptance that it can be survived, and maybe more with proper treatment.

Third, we must all decry the lazy tagline that a murder or suicide was the result of someone having bipolar disorder. It is neither obvious nor logical.

I have no tendencies that way. Rather my disorder impacts society through poor judgments that hurt me more than others.

THis is an amazing writing. Thank you for reaching ou tto put an end to mental illness.

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