Bell Let’s Talk Day is Thursday, January 28 and we’re joining in to help drive progress in mental health. Together, let’s work to end the stigma around mental health, because let’s face it – we all struggle from time to time, especially during a year like this, filled with so many challenges.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 38% of Canadians say their mental health has declined due to COVID-19, and people already struggling with their mental health were 2 times more likely to say their mental health has declined due to the pandemic.
This year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign shines a light on the actions that we can all take, because now more than ever, mental health matters – and it’s amazing the impact that a small action, or conversation, can have on your own mental health, or the mental health of those around you. I learned that lesson well this week, when talking to my own 10 year old daughter about mental health. With her permission, I’ve shared her story below, to reiterate the powerful impact that one simple conversation can have on someone who is struggling with their mental health.
My daughter, who I’m sure like many children (and adults!) in our community, has been struggling with her mental health since the pandemic began. Not being able to see her friends, or our extended family; not knowing when this will end; not knowing if she or our family members will get sick; all of these questions have been weighing heavily on her little mind since March of last year.
Though we have been supporting her as best we can, through regular (and sometimes tearful) conversations; lifting her spirits with fun activities at home together; and lots of video chats with her friends, grandparents and cousins – nothing seems to have helped quite as much as a recent conversation with her classmates.
As her class was talking about mental health last week in advance of Bell Let’s Talk Day, they were each invited to share how they were feeling. My daughter was initially scared to share anything. She was scared to share that she had been struggling – because even at her young age, she felt stigmatized by the way she was feeling. Not only did she feel different for struggling through strong feelings and emotions on a weekly basis, but she felt very much alone in her struggle, despite daily conversations with her dad and I. While she was struggling along, she felt that her peers were breezing right through this pandemic.
So, very hesitant to open up to her classmates, she stayed quiet, and just watched as her friends and classmates began to share their stories – one story after another that could have been shared by my daughter.
The same words that my daughter spoke to us for months, were being spoken over and over by her classmates. “I’m feeling anxious. I’m feeling scared. I’m feeling sad. I’m feeling alone”. These stories resonated deeply with my daughter, and listening to each one, her fears and loneliness, and the stigma around the way she was feeling slowly melted away. Eventually, she had the courage to raise her hand, and bravely share her own story with her classmates.
The joy that conversation brought to my daughter is something that I will remember for a long time. After this exercise with her class had ended, she immediately ran over to me, gave me the longest hug, and excitedly shared what had happened – all with a huge smile on her face.
Just knowing that her friends and classmates were feeling the same feelings as her and struggling like her – made such a difference for my daughter. Not only did I notice a positive difference in her mental health after this conversation, but I noticed a difference in her willingness to talk about her mental health.
Though this conversation with her classmates didn’t end her struggles – she still struggles, and some days more than others – she now feels much more comfortable sharing how she is feeling, and recognizes that everyone struggles with their mental health from time to time – helping her to feel much less different, and remarkably less alone.
It’s amazing the impact that one simple classroom conversation had on my daughter. How much joy and relief that one, simple conversation gave her.
One simple classroom conversation; a phone call; a video chat; or a social post can offer those around you a reminder that they aren’t alone, and that everyone struggles; can encourage others to seek help when they need it; and can reassure others that its ok to talk about how we are feeling. It’s amazing how just one simple action has the potential to impact the lives of others in powerful ways.
Whether you’re staying virtually connected with a family member, working in a career where you support folks who are struggling with their mental health, or are even just taking care of your own mental health, everyone can play a part in their communities, workplaces, schools and at home.
That’s why we’re joining in the 11th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day to help create positive change.
When it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long distance call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, every Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video, and every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. All at no cost to participants beyond what they would normally pay their service provider for online or phone access.
Please join us this Bell Let’s Talk Day by showing your support for all those who live with mental illness and those taking action to help them.
Remember, one simple conversation has the potential to make a world of difference. Together, let’s begin the conversation.
Check out the Bell Let’s Talk toolkit to begin your own conversation about mental health at home, school or in the workplace.
If you are struggling, or you know someone who is, there are many local organizations and resources available to support you. Please visit CMHA Waterloo Wellington for a list of local mental health services and supports. If you are in crisis or require immediate assistance, you can call CMHA Waterloo Wellington’s 24/7 line at 1-844-HERE-247 (437-3247), TTY: 1-877-688-5501. You can reach someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to access addictions, mental health and crisis services.