Let’s talk: Bell’s mental health initiative

A woman standing in her kitchen calls into work only to record a voice-mail. She speaks slowly, enunciating every word. There is conviction in her voice. She hangs up the phone, and lowers her head. Bold white words appear: “Every day, 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a form of mental illness.”

This may seem all too familiar to some of you, as Bell released this commercial early January to inform the public of a certain campaign. On February 12th 2013, Bell launched their Let’s Talk Day. Bell customers were encouraged to text, tweet and make long distance calls as they would donate 5 cents per each of those actions. They raised $4.8 million which amounts to over 96, 000, 000 texts, tweets and calls. The money raised will go towards the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund which is a part of their mental health initiative. This fund will donate grants of at least $5,000 to Canadian non-profit groups combating the mental illness. This includes hospitals, registered charities and social service agencies that “provide front-line support [in reducing] the stigma for those impacted by mental health issues.”  Any group that fits that criteria is eligible to apply.

So far, Bell has reached agreements with the Royal Ottawa Hospital and their Telepsychiatry Program donating $1 million, the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the Streetohome Foundation and a few others. With the money raised from this campaign, Bell will be able to donate more and more with every increasing year.

Here are a few mental health facts relevant to Canadians. The surprising number of those who suffer from a form of mental illness is too high, and the stigma surrounding them — the unfair judgement that they’re all simply crazy — needs to end:

  • 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives
  • 2 in 3 people suffer in silence fearing rejection and judgement
  • Only 49% of Canadians would socialize with a friend who has a mental illness


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