I really want to try and remain consistent with my blog posts, only posting on Mondays and Fridays from now on, however, today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. For all of you non-Canadians, the telecommunication company Bell Canada has allotted January 27th of every year as Bell Let’s Talk Day and for every phone call, text message, or hashtag of #bellletstalk, the company will donate $0.05 towards mental health initiatives. Their goal is to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Since this campaign began in 2010, Bell has raised over $100 million towards mental health initiatives in Canada.
Did you know that according to the Canadian Institute of Health Research, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience some sort of mental illness during their life. That means that 25% of us Canadians will experience some sort of mental illness including anxiety, stress, depression, and honestly the list goes on and on. With 25% of the population needing help at some point in their lives, you think it would be easy to receive help and support from Canadian healthcare, family, and friends. However, that’s not usually the case. The Canadian Medical Association has found that only 49% of Canadians would socialize with a friend who has a serious mental illness and 27% of Canadians are fearful of being around people who suffer from serious mental illness. I’m sorry, who are these people? Why should someone be afraid of spending time with someone who has a mental illness? Why would you discontinue being a friend to someone when they needed them the most? I cannot believe that almost 50% of the Canadian population would abandon their friend who was struggling. Would you not socialize with someone who has cancer, are you afraid of people who have cancer? No. So why should mental health be treated any differently.
According to the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, less than 4% of medical research funding goes to mental illness research. If there’s no research being funded to aid in solutions for mental health, then the solutions that we are able to get now are few and generally do not work for everybody. There are typical medications that get prescribed that come with their own long list of side effects including an increase in depression or suicidal thoughts. Now, this is just my opinion, but how about funding mental health research to create a medication that can help those with a mental illness WITHOUT the chance of them feeling worse than they did before they took the medication. That is why I applaud Bell Canada for taking the initiative to raise funding for mental health so that we can further the research into looking for appropriate solutions. The Canadian Mental Health Association has found that once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected.
With about 11 people ending their lives everyday in Canada by suicide, we need to end. the. stigma. Depression is not just being really sad. Anxiety isn’t just being worried. Stress is a serious condition. When we start talking about mental health, when we begin to make it widely accepted, people will no longer feel embarassed or shamed by feeling the way they do and ultimately seeking help. Please, I beg you, if you think you are suffering from any sort of mental illness, go. get. help. Your life is important, your health is important, and you are important. Do not let anyone make you feel like less of a person for having a serious illness. And for those of you who know someone who has a mental illness – support them, help them. Do not say “get over it”, “it’s just a phase”, or “but you have nothing to be sad about”. Mental illness is not about frame of mind, there is something actually happening in their mind that they cannot control. Please do not belittle or condescend. Love, support, listen.
Below are the recent commercials done by Bell Canada showing reactions to mental health situations, one side obviously being the way most people currently respond to mental illness, and the other side being the way we want everyone to respond to people who come forward with mental health issues. The third video is Bell Canada speaking out on why mental health matters to them.