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A day to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health

Today Canadians are encouraged to Facebook, Tweet, hashtag, snap or just talk about mental health

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day and Canadians are tweeting, texting, calling, using Instagram, Facebook and Snapchatting their stories to raise mental health awareness and end the stigma.

For each post —using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on social media — Bell is donating five cents to community mental-health initiatives. Since the program began in 2011, more than $86.5 million has been donated to mental-health initiatives and more than 740,000 individuals have been given access to mental-health care.

Growing the global conversation and support for Canada’s mental health gives way to more people speaking up and allowing for improvement on access to mental-health care.

Through the Bell Let’s Talk program Community Fund, grants are being provided to projects that support mental health services for Canadians.

Grants range from $5,000 to $25, 000, and this week in the Okanagan, a $17,000 grant was recently provided to the Foundry Kelowna. The Foundry is an integrated care clinic that opened in August of last year and supports youth and families struggling with mental health and substance abuse.

In the past these grants have helped programs such as the Hope Café in North Vancouver, the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) mental illness recovery and self-management skills program in Kelowna and the Living Life to the Full for Youth course across B.C.

So far the Community Fund program has provided more than $7 million in grants and supported more than 740,000 individuals with access to mental health care.

Since the inception of Bell Let’s Talk, four out of every five Canadians have reported they are more aware of mental-health issues.

Jessica Samuels with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), says anytime communities have conversations or ‘get loud’ and talk about mental health it’s a good thing, and Bell Let’s Talk Day is a great resource for that.

“The funding aspect is also really great, we run a bunch of programs nationally and locally that give people the tools they need to embark on their mental-health journey,” she explains.

She credits Bell Let’s Talk day with being the springboard to helping end the stigma around mental health.

“We know the more we talk about it that stigma is reduced,” she says. “Since the event started, and we look at the conversations that were or were not had seven years ago, there is definitely a difference, and Bell Let’s Talk day has been integral in that.”

In Kelowna, Samuels says there has been a shift in how people handle mental health issues and conversations.

“People are talking about suicide in the community, youth suicide has been an incredible issue at a crisis level in our community and the more people are talking about it today and how that carries on throughout the year, there is a difference. The more we talk about it, the more people know they are not alone and they can get help.”

While Samuels believes Bell Let’s Talk is a day to have conversations about mental health, share their story and feel comfortable telling their stories so they can get support, she also hopes the conversation can carry through the remaining days of the year.

“We have to be able to talk about mental health, everyday and all year.”

This is me at 16. My youngest sister Paris is laying on the hospital bed to the left. It was the day after she was born, my parents were still at the hospital. I had turned around to get a diaper to change her and my then 3 and a half year old sister Chanel snapped this picture. I was a Junior, doing alright in school. I was captain in the water polo team. I had friends. We went to all the school dances. I had a big home, good food and nice clothes. And now I had two beautiful baby sisters, something I had always wanted. But I felt small. I felt insignificant. I felt like my life was one of servitude to others and not my own. I felt like I didn't matter. I was lost. I said nothing. I said nothing because I felt selfish for feeling sad. That I must be ungrateful for the things I had. So many people had it worst I must be weak. I must be soft. I needed to suck it up. I spiraled. These feelings ate away at me inside. Like a lush apple rotten at the core. Everyone thought I had everything and I thought I had nothing. I thought I had nothing until the morning I was grasping to hold onto everything I was about to lose. It was sobering. The next years we're a rollercoaster. It was hard, but finally I had direction and purpose. I was going to get better… I can't heal you. Your mom can't heal you. Your dad can't heal you. Only one person can heal you. You. Only you have the power to do that. What I can do Is listen. I can be there. We can hang on for on more day together. Let me know. Let's talk. #bellletstalk #bellletstalk2018 #bellletstalkday #bellletstalk💙 #itgetsbetter #onedayatatime

A post shared by Candice Barrans (@candicebarrans) on

Samuels explains the social aspect of Bell Let’s Talk provides a comfort level with people to share on social media, use hashtags and then there is a viral urgency which might dip off after today, but says it’s is OK because any time people are getting loud about mental health it’s helping to end the stigma.

For those struggling with any mental health issue, Samuels suggests talking to someone they feel safe with, whether that is a crisis line, a friend or a co-worker.

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue so severe they will need to seek mental health attention, while the other four will be profoundly impacted by it.

“If someone comes to you and asks for help, then we (CMHA) need to help them get that help,” she explains. “At CMHA we are not a clinic and do not provide clinical services, but we are a starting point and we can help provide a list of services that are available to them.”

However for anyone in immediate crisis, please call 911 or go to your local hospital.

For a list of services and programs that CMHA provides click here.

For every view of the video below Bell will donate 5¢ to mental health initiatives.


@Jen_zee
jen.zielinski@bpdigital.ca

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