The annual Bell Let’s Talk Day incorporated new apps and initiatives for an even stronger campaign this year.
Damara Morey is 21 years-old and has been in and out of Newfoundland’s mental health system since she was 13.
“My first encounter with the mental health system was after I had went through severe trauma at about age 13 and needed counselling,” Morey said. “When I was 15, I ended up being sent to the Janeway, and the difference between how I was treated there was tremendous compared to how I was treated in the adult ward. That’s when I realized how messed up the system was.”
Morey says such things as Bell Let’s Talk helps. She says it gets people talking and raises funds for mental health. In 2016, Bell Let’s Talk raised nearly $80 million for mental health initiatives. Bell launched its seventh version of Bell Let’s Talk Day Wednesday.
A difficult subject for Morey to talk about, she says Bell Let’s Talk has helped her be more open about discussing mental health.
“Bell Let’s Talk has aided in helping to rid the stigma associated with psychiatric illnesses and the effect this has on the people in our society,” Morey said. “I think Newfoundland has a lot further to go in its advances, and with the support of Bell Let’s Talk, I think they can help spread awareness on how much we need services for those that are not mentally well, but aren’t in crisis either.”
This year Bell utilized some new initiatives to increase the conversation and get more people involved. It introduced a Snapchat geofilter, a Facebook video and an Instagram hashtag in order to broaden the amount of people participating in the campaign.
Bell also teamed up with student athletes across the country and came up with One Team For Mental Health, calling it “a game plan to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness.” This collaboration launched the biggest edition to Bell Let’s Talk since it began in 2011 – the Thunderclap.
Thunderclap blasted out a timed and simultaneous message on both Facebook on Twitter via
everyone who registered, creating a wave of attention for mental health across Canada.
This year’s Bell Let’s Talk campaign focused on four pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, workplace health, and research.
Rebecca Bell, the community relations manager with Bell Let’s Talk calls it an “in-depth process”, deciding which organizations get funded and which don’t. She explains that an external panel of mental-health experts, six of which are from Atlantic Canada, will sit down and rate the organizations
who applied through Bell’s Community Fund. The application closes on March 31.
“It’s a long process because the community fund gets over 700 applications each year, but every cent raised goes back into mental health,” Bell said. The list of organizations being funded will be released in late June, and the money distributed in October.
“We are not mental health experts,” she said. “But it doesn’t matter what the dollar amount we raise is – what matters is how much it impacts people.”