Jan. 30 marked the ninth annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign. Several well known Canadian celebrities and influencers took the day to social media outlets to get the message out about mental health and end the stigma.
This year the campaign broke all previous records, raising more than $7.2 million for mental health initiatives. As of late Wednesday evening, the 2019 Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign had gathered more than 144 million interactions.
On the campaign day, Bell donates five cents to Canadian mental health initiatives for every text message sent on Bell’s network, and for every tweet and retweet using hashtag #BellLetsTalk, as well as for every video view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video viewed on several social media platforms. Lastly, Bell contributes the same amount for every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.
Since the program began in 2010, Bell has raised more $93 million for mental health programs in Canada. With the addition of this year’s campaign, Bell has now donated $100.69 million to mental health initiatives, and prompted more than one billion online interactions.
“One in four people will be affected by mental health at some point in their lives. Mental illnesses affect over 450 million people each year. There is no way to avoid it — mental illness will take anyone it can lay its hands on,” said suicide survivor Madison Fisher.
“We as a society need to end the stigma associated with mental health. Six years ago I was found on my deathbed a minute away from death the night of my 20th birthday. I got the second chance of life that many others have not. I got the opportunity to make an impact and touch overs hearts in some way possible,” Fisher said.
The Canadian Mental Health Association reports that suicide accounts for 24 per cent of deaths among 15- to 24-year-olds and 16 per cent among 25- to 44-year-olds. Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
Also on Wednesday, The Canadian Alliance of Students Association kicked off its #StudentsLetsAct campaign. The campaign is challenging the federal government to play a more dominant role in students struggling with mental health.
“Post-secondary students are at a stage in their life when the pressure to do well academically is high, when they often have new responsibilities, and when they may not have the same support network around, making them particularly vulnerable to mental health issues,” a press release said. “Additionally, the age at which most people attend post-secondary coincides with a common age of onset for mental illness. Without the right accessible supports in place, not only is the student’s academic performance at risk, but also the individual’s safety and well-being.”
“As awareness begins to grow and affect us at a societal standpoint, we will see change. Mental health is so important and needs to be talked about and no longer considered taboo,” said Ben Hopkins, a student at the University of Ottawa. “Student mental health is so important because one day we will be the group dominating the work industry. I really hope one day society will change so that our mental health can be openly talked about and the stigma will be crushed.”