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 since entering the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 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 26th, 2022.
Since its creation, Bell Let’s Talk has raised over $113 million in support of mental health resources and organizations across Canada. 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. To further show support, every use of the official #BellLetsTalk hashtag will automatically donate five cents towards mental health initiatives in Canada.
In these difficult times of social distancing and self-isolation, taking care of your mental health is more prevalent than ever. 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. There are many mental health support systems available online and remotely, making it easier than ever for you and your loved ones to take care of yourselves.
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, which offers advice on seeking help from medical or social work practitioners, along with other resources for daily mindfulness and mental health awareness. A comprehensive list of resources recommended by #BellLet’sTalk can be found on their official website at letstalk.bell.ca.
It is also important to reach out to people in your community which, due to COVID restrictions, can prove difficult. However, utilizing social media or a quick phone call to share experiences is an extremely beneficial method during these difficult times. 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.
However, starting a dialogue about mental health can often be a difficult and personal subject. Bell has offered a “toolkit” conversation guide on their official website, outlining appropriate ways to begin discussing the mental health of a loved one or your own. Visit letstalk.bell.ca/toolkit for more information, or see below for a quick breakdown:
- Language matters: The words you use can make all the difference. Words can help, but they can also hurt. What would you choose?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, and 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.
Due to the continued uncertainty of COVID-19, feelings of anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues are constant and unsettling. Many people feel they have no control over their lives due to the unpredictability of the pandemic, which can make these feelings stronger. 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 help. Alternatively, any of the resources featured on letstalk.bell.ca 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 most businesses have been instructed to work-from-home. Reminding loved ones (and yourself) to take work breaks is vital when maintaining good mental health. Getting up to stretch, going for a quick walk outdoors or simply getting some fresh air are all simple ways you can take a 5-10 minute break. Another helpful reminder is that COVID is temporary, and that we should focus on what can be controlled as opposed to what is out of our control.
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, and it is important to ensure our communities are staying happy, 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:
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.