The Stigma Battle: #BellLetsTalk
There’s no shame in talking about mental health, and the yearly #BellLetsTalk Day is making sure people know it.
It’s safe to say that ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is an outdated saying. Life is full of ups and downs and 1 in 5 people will struggle with a mental illness at some point in their lives. As if mental illness isn’t enough to cope with already, the topic of mental health is overshadowed by a societal stigma.
Struggling with a mental illness is hard enough as it is, which is why Bell has launched this campaign to break the stigma and end the silence.
#BellLetsTalk Day has changed the face of mental health in Canada. In 2010 the large telecommunications company announced their launch of the yearly charitable program, dedicated to raising funds and ending the stigma surrounding mental health. This multi-million-dollar initiative has become a viral sensation on various social media platforms like twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. For every text, share, and tweet with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, 5 cents is donated to mental health initiatives. With the push of a button you can start a conversation, and the more openly mental health is spoken about, the closer we come to ending the stigma.
Although Bell is responsible for starting the campaign, it’s thanks to the millions of Canadians that contribute to breaking the silence during the yearly 24-hour period that #BellLetsTalk has become a viral sensation. Once a year, millions of Canadian embrace their struggles, their stories of success, their support for those suffering, and their recognition of those who fell short in their battle against mental health.
What started as a yearly charitable program for mental health has now become much bigger than just sharing a tweet to raise money—It now represents the fact that it is okay to not be okay.
As much as we might like to believe that there is a sum of money that could send mental health straight to extinction, there isn’t. However, whether you are struggling with mental health or not, you are gifted with something much more valuable than any form of currency—something that cannot be bought, priced, or sold — your voice.
When we all come together to fight the stigma surrounding mental health, the ‘i’ in illness becomes the ‘we’ in wellness.`
The hashtag #BellLetsTalk has not only collected a significant monetary fund that goes towards breaking the stigma and ending the silence surrounding mental health, it has also given us the opportunity to stand together and speak out. Millions of brave Canadians have spoken out and shared their stories concerning mental health. Doing so encourages others to speak out, reach out for help, and find comfort in the fact that no one is alone.
More importantly, #BellLetsTalk sets a standard. Mental illness is not shameful or weak, and everyone should feel encouraged to make mental health a priority. When millions of people speak out every year in support of mental health, it becomes clear how much power our voices have.
What has been accomplished in these 24 hour periods?
Bell tracks the number of interactions during the 24 hour period with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk.
In 2010, #BellLetsTalk was used 66,079,236 times.
Eight years later, in 2018, #BellLetsTalk was used 138,383,995 times.
Over the years there has been a total of 867, 449, 649 interactions. Each hashtag is a small action, but it makes a big impact.
$93.4 million dollars donated to mental health initiatives.
740,145 individuals supported with access to mental health care.
1,051,599 crisis and distress line callers.
492,058 children and youth reached through Bell Let’s Talk Programs.
212,260 individuals supported through technology-based mental health programs.
4,265 volunteers and staff members trained.
3,517 military families helped.
4 out of 5 Canadians reported that they are more aware of mental health issues since the campaign began.
And it all started with 1 hashtag.
If you are struggling, please know that you are not alone, and you are encouraged to reach out and get help.
Here is a list of 24/7 mental health help lines:
Distress Line 613-238-3311
Crisis Line 613-722-6914
Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
Good 2 Talk 1-866-925-5454
Telehealth Ontario 1-866-797-0000
Mental Health Helpline 1-866-531-2600
Tel-Aide Outaouais 613-741-6433 x18005679699
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310