In September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk started a movement in an attempt to create a new conversation about mental health. In turn, the organization has raised almost $80 million towards mental health programs in Canada.
On Jan. 25 each year, Bell Let’s Talk began circulating the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, promoting that for every use of the hashtag, the company would donate five cents to mental health programs in Canada. In 2017, #BellLetsTalk was used 131,705,010 times for a total of $6,585,250 in donations.
On the first Bell Let’s Talk Day in 2010, there were a total of 66,079,236 social media interactions using #BellLetsTalk, and that number has been increasing every year since, creating a total of 597,360,644 social media interactions since the trend started in 2011.
The movement has built their strategy on four major pillars, according to their website. The four pillars are anti-stigma, care and access, workplace health and research.
According to the Bell Let’s Talk website, one of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma attached to it. Bell supports a variety of organizations including grassroots agencies, local hospitals and universities to help provide Canadians with support services when and where they need it. Mental health is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and it represents 15 percent of Canada’s burden of disease. Bell is committed to leading by example in their own workplace by adopting the voluntary Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, and is encouraging greater corporate engagement across Canada. “Research holds the greatest promise to better understand treatments and cures,” Bell Let’s Talk website said. Bell is investing in ‘best-in-class’ research programs with the potential to have a transformative impact on the mental health and well-being of Canadians.
The movement is one that has become extremely popular in the hockey world, with several former National Hockey League players having died in recent years following battles with different mental illnesses. Former NHL players Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak all suffered from depression or other mental illnesses and died in the summer of 2011. These unfortunate events have created an environment across the NHL and in the world of hockey that has become much more supportive of mental illness.
Crae Messer can be contacted at Cmesser@kscequinox.com
Shelby Iava can be contacted at Siava@kscequinox.com