Posted 06/01/2020 7:38:16 PM by Tanya Colaco

Bell Let’s Talk Day is around the corner! You can join the conversation on January 29, 2020. The movement began in 2010 as a way to help Canadians openly share stories about mental illness and mental health struggles. Bell Let’s Talk also aims to offer hope and reduce the loneliness that often occurs alongside these issues.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness every year. In addition to this, mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.

Despite these statistics, mental health and illness issues continue to be met with widespread stigma—a negative belief and/or stereotype. Harmful examples of mental health and mental illness stigma include beliefs such as “people with mental health issues are weak” and “people with mental health issues are dangerous”. Stereotypes such as these are hurtful and harmful and are based on fear and misunderstanding.

Unfortunately, these prejudicial beliefs can often lead to discriminatory treatment by others and they create serious barriers to diagnosis and support for those suffering. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health asserts that mental health and mental illness stigma prevents 40 percent of people with anxiety or depression from seeking medical help. Moreover, stigma can be connected to all stages of living with a mental health struggle from experiencing symptoms, to receiving support and healing.

There are many anti-stigma campaigns out there to encourage us to challenge and reframe our negative beliefs and harmful stereotypes about people with mental health issues. This includes Bell Let’s Talk since one of the campaign’s main pillars is anti-stigma.

On their web page, Bell Let’s Talk cites 5 ways you can help to end the stigma associated with mental health or mental illness struggles:
  1. Language
Be aware of the language you use and be careful not to identify someone by their mental illness. For example: “a person with schizophrenia” versus “the schizophrenic”.
  1. Education
Knowing the difference between myths and facts regarding mental health or illness issues can help prevent the spread of misinformation. 
  1. Kindness
Try not to invalidate someone’s struggle. Instead, show kindness and empathy. 
  1. Listen and Ask
Just like you would if someone was struggling with a physical ailment, listen and ask gentle and curious questions. 
  1. Talking
Silence fuels stigma and discrimination. Help break the silence by having conversations with people you trust. Bring up mental illness and mental health struggles in your interactions with others and speak up when you hear harmful stereotypes being perpetuated.

Although ending mental illness stigma should not be confined to one day a year, campaigns such as #BellLetsTalk help direct attention and awareness to reducing the harmful effects associated with stigma and discrimination.

Each Bell Let’s Talk Day Action contributes 5¢ to mental health initiatives. Here they are below:
  • Twitter – tweet using #BellLetsTalk or watch the official video
  • Facebook – use the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or watch the official video
  • Instagram – watch the official video
  • Snapchat – send a snap using the Bell Let’s talk filter or watch the official video
  • YouTube – watch the official video
  • Bell Mobility Customers – text messages and calls

How the YMCA Helps

Another way to reduce mental health and mental illness stigma is to approach mental health and illness support like we approach other forms—by asking for help from a trusted source. Just as we would go to a mechanic for car troubles and see a dentist for a tooth issue, we can access mental health services to support our mental wellness. Take a look below at the video the YMCA created to show that we can access mental wellness support just as we would other forms of support.

The YMCA offers free mental wellness programs across BC for teens and young adults ages 13 to 30. These programs are designed for those who are experiencing mental health issues such as stress, worry and mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression. Visit our Mental Wellness page to learn more about each program.
Article Written By:
Sarah Blackmore, MA, RCC
Manager, Mental Wellness Programs
YMCA of Greater Vancouver

About Tanya Colaco

Tanya is the Digital Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. She’s an avid foodie, enjoys learning new things and loves to travel. Tanya is also an “animal person” and can never resist petting any cat or dog that crosses her path!

More from Tanya Colaco

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.