Bell Let’s Talk supports national mental health services

© Can Stock Photo / Bialasiewicz

The spotlight is being shone on mental health and addictions right across Canada on Wednesday.

It’s the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, with proceeds supporting those most in need of support.

This year’s theme is “Keep Talking, Keep Listening, Keep Hope”.

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Lambton-Kent CEO Alan Stevenson believes many people are feeling more comfortable to open up.

“The stigma is declining for sure and people are much more open,” said Stevenson. “People think of mental wellness and wellbeing as being as equally important to physical wellbeing now. That’s such a change, and one of the important factors behind that is the number of celebrities getting involved and the support of organizations like Bell. Young people, they view it very differently. They aren’t afraid or ashamed to talk about mental health and, in fact, hold the rest of us accountable to make sure we make it a priority.”

Stevenson said they’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people seeking help.

“It really has gone along with the waves of COVID,” he said. “Initially, at the beginning in 2020, we saw that people were hunkering down and trying to cope on their own without supports. After the end of the first wave, we saw an increase and the demand has increased month after month. Each month we’re hitting higher numbers than we’ve ever seen in that month previously. The demand is increasing and the complexity of the issues that they’re dealing with is increasing as well.”

Stevenson said they’ve partnered with seven other CMHA branches across Ontario, to host a ZOOM and Facebook Live event.

Youth Mental Health Worker Lindsay Kirkland will be part of the morning panel, between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

“I’ll be sharing a bit about my own story and what it’s like to struggle, especially as a youth,” said Kirkland. “The view is a bit different moving through the system. There really is hope, especially for the young people out there. As a mental health advocate, I spend a lot of my time speaking about mental health and the need for more services and to try and reduce that stigma. I remember when I was younger the conversations around mental health and wellbeing weren’t being talked about, and now it’s not uncommon to go on social media and see people talk about their mental health and sharing their own stories and frustrations.”

There will also be an evening panel discussion, running from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Today, Bell will be donating five cents each time the hashtag #BellLetsTalk is used on twitter, or official videos posted on Facebook and Instagram are viewed.

“This year’s campaign highlights the ways that we can support ourselves and those we care about through actions like listening, being there and talking,” read a CMHA release.

Since its inception in 2010, the initiative has brought in over $100 million, partnering with more than 1,300 organizations providing mental health services across the country.

In a recent survey conducted by Nielsen Consumer Insights, 82 per cent of Canadians say they are now comfortable speaking with others about mental health, compared to only 42 per cent in 2012.