Many important factors play into a happy and healthy lifestyle. These elements may include exercise, sleep and nourishment, but perhaps one of the most essential aspects of all, is perspective. Mental health plays a large role in how we live our day-to-day lives, especially living in the aftermath of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital to pause and acknowledge our emotions, especially if we don’t feel at our best or begin to notice shifts in our thought process. Since 2010, Bell has encouraged Canadians and people worldwide to join in on the conversation around mental health with #BellLetsTalk Day. This year’s awareness is being recognized on Wednesday, January 25th, 2023.
What is #BellLetsTalk?
Bell Let’s Talk is a year-round initiative, created in September 2010, that engages fellow Canadians to take action in creating positive change for mental health. The focus is on four key action pillars:
- Fighting the stigma
- Improving access to care
- Supporting world class research
- Leading by example in the workplace
Since its creation, #BellLet’sTalk has raised over $113 million in support of mental health resources and organizations across Canada.
How does the hashtag help?
In these difficult times, taking care of your mental health is more prevalent than ever. Through the use of the #BellLetsTalk hashtag, Canadians are encouraged to use their social media platforms to help spread mental health awareness and resources to those who need them most. Both sharing and reposting content with this hashtag is a great way to support the people you love, as well as finding resources to support yourself. To further show support, every use of the official #BellLetsTalk hashtag will automatically donate five cents towards mental health initiatives in Canada. There are many mental health support systems available online and remotely, making it more accessible than ever for you and your loved ones to take care of yourselves.
It is also important to reach out in person to people in your community if you are struggling with your mental health. However, utilizing social media or a quick phone call to share experiences is also an extremely beneficial method. Both sharing and searching the #BellLet’sTalk hashtag is a fantastic way to break the stigma around mental health and to share stories with people in your community. When your mind and thought process are tended to, they will both get you one step closer to living a fuller, happier and more productive life.
What are the four pillars of action?
Tools and resources
Resources vary and often depend on age group, with specialized consultations for children and senior citizens. A great resource for adults is the Canadian Mental Health Association. They offer advice about seeking help from medical or social work practitioners, along with other resources for daily mindfulness and mental health awareness. However, starting a dialogue about mental health can often be a difficult and personal subject. A comprehensive list of resources recommended by #BellLet’sTalk can be found on their official website at letstalk.bell.ca, outlining appropriate ways to begin discussing the mental health of a loved one or your own. See below for a quick breakdown:
1. Language matters
The words you use can make all the difference. Words can help, but they can also hurt. What would you choose?
2. Educate yourself
When it comes to mental illness, education is key. Having the right tools, knowing the right words to use and understanding how to correctly speak with someone experiencing a mental illness can make all the difference.
3. Kindness is key
Simple kindness can make a world of a difference. Whether it be a smile, being a good listener or an invitation for a chat over (virtual) coffee, these simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you’re there for them.
4. Listen & ask
Mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering. Being a good listener and asking how you can help or simply just being there for people you care about can be the first step to recovery.
5. Break the silence
Two out of three people suffer in silence, fearing judgement and rejection. Being open to a conversation is the first step towards eliminating the stigma. Know the facts, be kind, be a good listener and a friend. Be part of the conversation to eliminate the stigma once and for all.
The most important takeaway from this is how important it is to listen when someone is sharing their struggles with mental health. Sharing these personal feelings is an intimate act. Giving the other person your full attention is a great first step towards building trust, and allowing them to trust and share their journey. Forming these strong connections is also an extremely effective way to maintain a sense of community in these trying times.
What to do if someone reaches out
If a loved one reaches out to you about any mental health issues, it is important to direct them to a medical or social work practitioner, if possible. Visit the Ontario Association of Mental Health Practioners (OAMHP) for additional resources. Alternatively, any of the resources featured on letstalk.bell.ca website are great options to explore.
A quick (and gentle) reminder to continue eating healthily, drinking water, sleeping and getting exercise can go a long way to show someone struggling that you care about them. Did you know the endorphins produced by exercise improves mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, depression and negative thoughts? It is also very common to struggle with separating work life from social life, given how many people are still working from home. Reminding loved ones (and yourself) to take work breaks is vital when maintaining good mental health. Getting up to stretch or going for a quick walk outdoors are simple ways you can take a 5-10 minute break.
Ways to help your community
According to the Bell Let’s Talk website, here are some ways you can help:
- Nurture yourself by implementing good mental health practices
- Get involved in an event or intiative that is important to you
- Engage in more conversations to help fight the stigma around mental health
- Help someone you love who is struggling by learning about the ways you can support them
- Ask how pillars in your community are creating change for mental health
- Choose a mental health organization to learn more about and support
- Share your experiences with the #BellLetsTalk hashtag to inspire others to join the movement and create positive change
Some mental health statistics
- More than 200 Canadians will attempt suicide every single day, and 12 will be successful
- 1 in 4 Canadians are experiencing high levels of anxiety
- Opioid overdose-related deaths went up in Canada by more than 90% during the pandemic, with about 20 per day
- More than 1 in 2 people struggling with their mental health aren’t getting the help they need
Today, join isure in making mental health a priority. Let’s #endthestigma around mental health and use the #BellLetsTalk hashtag to get the discussion moving. Use this day as a fresh opportunity in the new year to take initiative and show support. Mental health affects everyone, whether directly or not. As a result, it is important to ensure our communities are staying mentally and physically well, as well as healthy and safe. Using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag to spread awareness and stop the stigma can go a long way towards building stronger communities, both online and in-person.
Additional mental health resources:
Since 2010, Bell Let’s Talk has committed more than $139 million to Canadian mental health initiatives. Make sure to follow #BellLetsTalk on all social media platforms in order to stay updated on insightful information, inspiring stories and to post stories and resources of your own. If you are in crisis, please go to the closest hospital or call 911.