National spokesperson Clara Hughes and the Bell Let’s Talk team today invite everyone to help end the stigma around mental illness while driving Bell’s donations to Canadian mental health on Bell Let’s Talk Day January 27.
“We turn up the mental health volume on Bell Let’s Talk Day, letting all those who struggle know they have our support and can reach out for help without fear. At the same time, Bell increases its funding of Canadian mental health programs with each message of support you send,” said Clara Hughes, Canada’s 6-time Olympic medalist and national Bell Let’s Talk spokesperson since its launch in 2010. “I am so excited to be part of the incredible journey to making Canada a nation free of the stigma around mental illness. As we begin the next 5 years of our mental health initiative, I invite you to join me on January 27 to take the conversation further than ever before!”
Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015 set new records for participation in the mental health conversation with more than 122 million messages of support, growing Bell’s funding for Canadian mental health by more than $6 million and becoming the #1 Twitter trend worldwide.
Last September, Bell announced the extension of Bell Let’s Talk for a further 5 years and an increase in its total funding commitment to at least $100 million.
“Over the past 5 years, Bell Let’s Talk has made significant progress in increasing awareness and improving attitudes about mental health while also supporting significant new Canadian initiatives in care and access, research and workplace mental health,” saidGeorge Cope, President and CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada. “Together, we’ve made a real difference. But mental illness continues to have a tremendous impact on individuals and families, our communities, our workplaces and our national economy. I would like to thank everyone who has been part of Canada’s mental health movement over these past 5 years and welcome everyone to this year’s campaign as we work to keep the positive momentum going.”
A 2015 Nielsen survey undertaken on behalf of Bell Let’s Talk found that 81% of Canadians were more aware of mental health issues than in 2010 (87% of youth aged 18 to 24), 70% think attitudes about mental health have changed for the better (79% of young people), and 57% believe the stigma around mental illness has been reduced (65% of young people).
Joining Clara again this year on the Bell Let’s Talk team are TSN host Michael Landsberg, comedian Howie Mandel, entertainer Mary Walsh, and Québec personalities Stefie Shock and Michel Mpambara. New to the Bell Let’s Talk team for 2016 are singer-songwriter Serena Ryder, actor Marie-Soleil Dion and CFL player Étienne Boulay.
Bell Let’s Talk ambassadors professional golfer Andrew Jensen, comedian and writer Kevin Breel, CFL veteran Shea Emry, and musician Robb Nash once again join the team in sharing their own mental health stories and welcoming Canadians to the conversation. This year we also welcome two more new voices to the Bell Let’s Talk team, Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock and singer-songwriter Séan McCann.
Joining the mental health conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day not only supports those who struggle with a mental illness, you also drive Bell’s funding just by participating at no extra cost to you. For every text message, wireless and long distance call made by Bell Canadaand Bell Aliant customers, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, and every Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk Day image at Facebook.com/BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5 cents more to Canadian mental health programs.
With a total of 122,150,772 interactions on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015, Bell committed a further $6,107,538.60 in funding for Canadian mental health – bringing the Bell Let’s Talk total to $73,623,413.80. The Bell Let’s Talk Twitter hashtag was the second most popular Canadian hashtag in all of 2015 after the federal election, while Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015 was the #1 trend on Twitter worldwide with 4,775,708 tweets.
Bell’s donations are made at no extra charge to Bell Let’s Talk Day participants, though normal long distance or text charges, if any, apply.
Built on the 4 action pillars of anti-stigma, care and access, research and workplace leadership, Bell Let’s Talk has partnered with more than 600 organizations to move Canada’s mental health forward. Approximately 450,000 people have already received mental health support through a Bell Let’s Talk funded program – 240,000 of them children and youth – 6,000 staff and volunteers have received additional training, and 1,000 Canadian military families have received mental health support.
Bell Let’s Talk initiatives have included Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk, Clara Hughes’ epic 11,000-kilometre bicycle journey take the anti-stigma messages to communities around Canada; the introduction of annual community funds supporting grassroots mental health initiatives across Canada, in our Northern territories and for military families; the world’s first university chair in anti-stigma studies at Queen’s University; funding and implementation of the world’s first voluntary standard on workplace mental health; Canada’s first biobank of biological, social and psychological data at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal; the Bell Gateway Building at CAMH, the first mental health facility named for a corporation; and the first university-certified workplace mental health training program. More than 8,000 Bell managers across Canada have received training in mental health support.
This year’s Bell Let’s Talk’s campaign builds on the 5 simple ways to fight the stigma developed by Dr. Heather Stuart, the first Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University, and introduced as part of the 2015 Bell Let’s campaign:
“The 5 simple ways enable Canadians to engage in conversations about mental health and help support those who live with mental illness,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “As conversations grow and awareness and understanding increases, stigma is reduced. It’s a way we can all help those who struggle with mental illness – most of whom won’t otherwise seek the help they need because of embarrassment or fear that they will be judged for their illness.”
- Language matters – pay attention to the words you use about mental illness
- Educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs
- Be kind – small acts of kindness speak a lot
- Listen and ask – sometimes it’s best to just listen
- Talk about it – start a dialogue, break the silence
To learn more about the campaign, and to download the Bell Let’s Talk toolkit to help get your conversation started, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.