Bell, let’s talk: mental illness isn’t Michael Bublé watering plants

Bell's headquarters
Image by: Ashley Chen

‘Bell Let’s Talk’ Day encourages the de-stigmatization of conversations about mental health issues, but the flaws of the campaign itself need addressing: namely, the band-aid solutions it offers in place of the systemic change we need.

Recent criticism has questioned why Bell included their name in the ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ hashtag in the first place. In doing so, the phone giant isn’t just advertising the campaign, but its own company.

While The Journal Editorial Board believes those behind the ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ initiative had, and still have, good intentions, it calls on the company to up their game next year and to give its campaign the reform it needs.

This year’s annual video features Michael Bublé doing ordinary, everyday activities like watering his plants. Throughout the video, he maintains that watching him perform these activities raises money for mental health organizations.

But the video fails to do what its whole campaign hinges on: actually talking about mental illness.

Mental illness is different for everyone, but for most, it’s not encapsulated in the rosy image Bell paints of Bublé. Mental illness is lying in bed for days, struggling to do basic tasks like showering or getting the mail. Showcasing these realities would be more impactful in steering viewers to a conversation about mental health.

But ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ isn’t just a video; often, it’s Instagram users offering up their DMs to anyone with mental illness who ‘wants to talk.’

While kind, the notion that our peers can be our therapists is dangerous. Helping those with mental illness isn’t as simple as offering an ear; what they need is professional treatment, and no peer—no matter how attentive—can replace that.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to access mental health services, and our conversations need to address that.

Our healthcare cannot simply cover our physical needs—it must treat our mental ones too. Therapy must be normalized and affordable. We must also include all mental illnesses in our conversations. OCD, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder are all equally as important as more commonly discussed disorders like anxiety and depression.

No matter the progress we’ve made over the years, the stigma surrounding mental health is as alive as ever. No one’s denying the good Bell’s campaign has done over the years. But Bell has the ability to do so much more.

Subjecting viewers to Michael Bublé allows people to be complacent in the conversation. If Bell wants to encourage real, authentic conversation, it needs to reform its campaign, educating people about the realities of mental illness and advocating for accessible, affordable therapy instead of encouraging people to just talk it out.

Journal Editorial Board


Bell Let's Talk, Mental health, therapy

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