Since 2010, Bell Canada has run a yearly Bell Let’s Talk Day that urges people to talk about mental illness to help break down the stigma.
For every text and phone call made on the Bell network, as well as every view of their videos, tweets, Facebook posts and Instagrams with the Bell Let’s Talk hashtag, Bell donates five cents to mental health causes. Over the course of the day this year, the hashtag was shared over 125,000,000 times, raising over $6 million dollars.
Bell Let’s Talk runs on four pillars: anti-stigma, mental health care and access for all Canadians, research into treatments and cures for mental illnesses as well as establishing workplace mental health standards.
Each year, Bell’s campaign emphasizes that breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness doesn’t have to be difficult. Through the use of respectful language, education, listening and simply speaking out about mental illness, everyone can help create better attitudes towards mental health issues.
Bell Let’s Talk Day didn’t go unnoticed this year. Many professors worked the importance of mental health into their lectures for the day, encouraging students to share the Bell Let’s Talk hashtag and stressing the importance of improving mental health funding and attention.
The ARC was also decorated with blue and white balloons, the signature colours of the event. Even exercise machines were adorned with messages encouraging students to listen and educate themselves.
Queen’s chapters of Jack.org and Step Above Stigma had booths set up in the ARC to raise awareness for the cause, while selling merchandise for charity and even putting on a flash mob around noon. Both organizations were interested in discussing mental health with anyone who walked by, allowing people to share their thoughts on mental illness and stigma.
“We have a booth in the ARC today to raise awareness, start conversations with people,” Jack.org co-chair Evan Sambasivam told The Journal. He explained the booths gave students the opportunity to share “what they want to see on campus, the stigmas that surround them, and their thoughts on mental health in general.”
The club also collaborated with Tricolour Outlet to sell socks that proudly displayed the club name and featured a semi colon, the universal symbol for suicide survivors. According to the Facebook event, all proceeds will go to mental health initiatives.
On Twitter, Queen’s actively promoted Bell Let’s Talk, sharing videos of Queen’s professor and Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair Heather Stuart. In the videos, Stuart elaborated on the Bell Let’s Talk advice on how to respond to mental health and stigma.
With all these efforts around Queen’s campus and Canada, hopefully we’ll be able to create a future in which mental illness is a topic people feel comfortable talking about — and not the elephant in the room.
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