Windsor benefits from record-breaking Bell Let’s Talk Day
By Nantanaa Mutharasu
Canadians flooded social media with #BellLetsTalk on Wednesday.
Bell Let’s Talk announced on Facebook there were around 131 million interactions, resulting in $6.5 million funds that will benefit mental health organizations all over Canada.
The goal behind this initiative is to end the stigma associated to mental health.
“#Bell LetsTalk was the number one most used hashtag in Canada in 2016 but on Bell Let’s Talk Day last year, it was the most used hashtag in the world,” said Mary Deacon, chair of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative.
The hashtag was used across social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Mobile calls made on the Bell network were also measured. The campaign donated 5 cents every time someone spoke up about mental health.
“Stigma is what keeps people from seeking help,” said Deacon. “Sharing stories and letting people know they’re not alone helps to reduce stigma and also make it easier for people to reach out for help and support.”
The more an individual interacts, the more Bell commits to raising funds for mental health organizations.
The Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor said the benefit it receives from Bell Let’s Talk Day is paramount.
“We treat about 6,400 clients in Windsor-Essex County annually,” said Jenny-Lee Almeida, mental health educator of CMHA. “Statistically, that means one in every five Canadians is affected by mental illness.”
Almeida said celebrities such as Howie Mandel are also speaking up about mental health.
This movement has even spread across the border, gaining momentum from Hollywood stars such as Ellen Degeneres, whose tweet was retweeted almost 300,000 times. Other celebrities such as Ryan Reynolds, Alice Cooper and Sophia Bush have also joined in.
This campaign has given survivors the platform to talk about mental health, spread awareness and even connect with someone with similar issues. They believe there are more changes that need to be seen.
“It’s a good way to educate people who have never thought about it before,” said Hailey Trealout, a post-traumatic stress disorder survivor.
“For someone who has a service dog, I’ve had many issues with the public… that I don’t look disabled enough to have a service dog,” added Trealout. “That’s one of the things mental illness has a big stigma for … we are not disabled enough to be helped.”
When such stigmas are eradicated, Trealout believes a lot more lives could be helped by focusing on what it is these people are feeling and what they need in order to move forward.
Last year, Bell Let’s Talk raised $6.3 million with 126 million interactions, bringing the total commitment to date as of 2016 to almost $80 million.
Bell Let’s Talk Day exceeded its goal of $6.3 million, raising $6.5 million.
Although it occurs once a year, they hope to keep the conversations going all year long.