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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