For just under a decade, Bell has been contributing to a cause that started as something new and not very popular in Canada – mental illness. The organization, which provides phone and internet service to Canadian citizens, opened up the conversation about mental illness and the stigmas associated with it to find that the need for this discussion was and remains to be very great. Bell’s initiatives to bring light to mental illness and educate people on the topic has promoted awareness since 2010, and, in these past eight years, Bell has donated slightly under $94 million to local mental health programs all over Canada thanks in part to Bell Let’s Talk Day, which is January 30, 2019.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019, Bell is planning on donating more dollars to Canadian organizations dedicated to tearing down the stigma of mental illness and educating others on mental illness and how to handle it. For each text, call, tweet, social media video view, Facebook frame use, or Snapchat filter use that is applicable to Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell is pledging a donation of five cents to the pot of funds that will be disseminated to deserving organizations. So be sure to spend some time texting and posting all over social media on January 30th.
If your experience with mental illness is more immediate, and you are searching for information on how to handle it yourself or help a loved one who is coping with mental illness, then Bell has tips to share with you. For instance, did you know that one in five Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point during their lifetime? Did you also know that the stigma around mental illness is the number one reason that people do not seek help? Slashing that stigma and encouraging communication is key, and Bell, in partnership with Dr. Heather Stuart, has developed five simple ways to end the stigma.
The first thing to remember is that language matters. Words can be harmful, and they can also be helpful if used in the right way. The example given on the letstalk.bell.ca website is to refer to someone as “person with schizophrenia” rather than “schizo”. A good tip is to think of the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated.
The second thing you can do to get rid of stigmas is to educate yourself. Read about the facts and the myths. The more you know, the closer you are to eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness.
Another way to encourage discussion is to just be kind. Lend an ear or a hug, listen, offer support, and ask if there is anything you can do to help. Showing that you care and showing kindness will help open the door to communication and help because breaking the silence is what it is all about. Hearing stories of others who have walked the same path or hearing that it is okay to not be okay is good, and those words carry healing powers. They carry the fact that you are not alone in the struggle, and that helps slash the stigma.
If you’re still not sure what to say or how to handle your situation, click here to download the conversation guide on the Bell Let’s Talk Website. The guide serves as a resource if you’re hoping to facilitate a discussion in your community or simply talk with a loved one who you may be worried about.
This year on Bell Let’s Talk Day, take the time to get the word out in your own way. Remember that donations will be made for texts, calls, and certain social media usage, so start talking. This cause is a powerful one and needs support from everyone, so encourage others around you to take part as well. Together, work can be done to slash mental illness stigma.