From its inception, I have been a supporter of the Bell Let’s Talk initiative. As I wrote more than a dozen years ago, “I liked seeing such an important player in my business – telecommunications – take an active interest in my family’s main line of work – mental health.”
The Bell Lets Talk strategy is built on 4 key pillars: Anti-Stigma; Care & Access; Research; and, Workplace Leadership.
One of the biggest hurdles for anyone struggling with mental illness is overcoming the stigma attached to it. Talking is an important first step towards lasting change. The annual Bell Let’s Talk Day and awareness campaign has become the world’s largest conversation about mental health, encouraging Canadians and people around the world to talk and take action to help reduce stigma and promote awareness and understanding so everyone can get the help they need.
In 2012 Bell established the world’s first Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University to continue to advance anti-stigma research, scholarship, and outreach programs.
- Care & Access
Bell funds organizations large and small throughout Canada, including grassroots agencies, hospitals and post-secondary institutions, to provide Canadians with mental health supports and services.
Through the Bell Let’s Talk Funds, partnerships and major gifts, Bell has supported organizations in every province and territory in Canada, enabling them to improve access to mental health supports and services in communities nationwide.
Research holds the greatest promise to better understand treatments and solutions. 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.
Bell Let’s Talk has funded research projects across the country, including $3 million to fund the world’s first university chair in mental health and anti-stigma research at Queen’s University, $1 million to fund Canada’s first biobank of biological, social and psychological data at l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, and $2 million announced in 2021 to establish the Bell Let’s Talk-Brain Canada Mental Health Research Program with Brain Canada.
- Workplace Leadership
One in three workplace disability claims in Canada are related to mental illnesses. Bell is committed to leading by example in our own workplace by adopting the voluntary National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and is encouraging greater corporate engagement across Canada.
Bell’s initiatives to improve mental health awareness, training and benefits have reduced short-term disability claims related to mental health by over 30%, and reduced relapse and recurrence by more than 50%.
The theme for Bell Let’s Talk Day 2023 (January 25) is Let’s change this.
This year’s campaign is intended to put a focus on some of the key challenges faced by Canadians. Bell has announced an additional $10 million towards its goal of $155 million for Canadian mental health programs, replacing the 5 cents per interaction made in previous years on Bell Let’s Talk Day.
Thirteen years ago, Bell Let’s Talk set out to tackle the stigma around mental illness. Since then, Bell Let’s Talk Day became the world’s largest conversation about mental health, increasing awareness and helping bring about real change. Since 2011, there have been nearly 1.5 billion messages on various channels.
On January 25, I will still be supporting the use of #BellLetsTalk on social media and promoting the initiative.
I hope you will as well.