Bell campaign aims to change the conversation about mental health Bell Let’s Talk raises money for organizations nation wide

(Photo by Aron Diaz)

Taking place at the end of the month, Bell Let’s Talk campaign is aiming to help end the taboo of openly discussing mental health while raising money for the cause.

“[Bell Let’s Talk] helps destigmatize mental health and helps people seeking help in more of a positive light rather than seeing it as a sign of weakness,” said Shelann McQuay, a registered psychologist with SAIT student development and counselling services.

Bell Let Talk’s will be taking place on Wednesday, Jan. 31. People are able to participate in Bell Let’s Talk through social media, texting and phone calls. For each interaction, Bell will donate five cents.

“That’s what this campaign is about and that’s the message we want to get out to students, help seeking is a positive action and is going to support their academic and personal success,” said McQuay.

The campaign has currently had more than 729,000,000 participants resulting in $7 million in community fund grants and 414 community fund grants. Bell aims to donate over $100 million by 2020.

These grants have provided 740,145 individuals with access to mental health care and support. Bell Let’s Talk also reported that four out of five Canadians are more aware of mental health issues.

Over the course of six years, the Let’s Talk campaign donated nearly $86.5 million to institutions and organizations across Canada to create better access to mental heath care and research.

“It encourages people to see how maintaining mental health should be a part of everyone’s daily life. It educates about mental health, how to approach it and how language matters,” said McQuay.

The Let’s Talk campaign website aims to promote awareness and action based on four key pillars, supporting world-class research, improving access to care, fighting the stigma and leading by example in workplace mental health.

“Bell Let’s Talk is very proud to support Calgary Counselling Centre’s Urgent Access for Depressed Youth program,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk.

“This year, the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund has provided 70 grants to support programs providing mental health services in communities around the country that help Canadians living with mental health issues,” said Deacon.

Organizations that have benefitted from the campaign in Calgary include the Calgary Counselling Centre, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Canadian Mental Health Association, the Government of Alberta, the Community Transcultural Support Services, Kerby Assembly and SupportWorks Incorporated.

Bell Let’s Talk donated $15,000 to Calgary Counselling Centre’s Access for Depressed Youth in October 2017. The program will increase access to counselling services for youth experiencing depression in the Calgary area.

“We know that in Calgary alone, four to eight kids in every classroom are depressed, but only one or two are getting help,” said Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO of Calgary Counselling Centre.

“Calgary needs services for children and youth that are accessible and immediate. This grant from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund will allow us to continue to support the youth of our city regardless of their ability to pay and with no waitlist,” said Babins-Wagner.

The donation will help increase capacity for the Calgary Counselling Centre allowing for 800 new counselling sessions for those experiencing depression.

SAIT offers 24 hour support through Student Development and Counselling Services and works with the Distress Centre and Community Resource team to ensure students have support.

They will be kicking off 28 days of happiness at the end of the month to help people in the SAIT community foster and create well-being. People can sign up through email to receive fun facts, activities and more.

SAITSA also provides the IM Well app as a mental health aid.

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