Bell Let’s Talk Initiative, JAN 28th – #‎BellLetsTalk‬

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BELL let'stalk

Stigma adds to suffering

One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma. It is the number one reason why two-thirds of those living with a mental illness do not seek help.

The annual Bell Let’s Talk awareness campaign and Day opens the national conversation about mental illness to fight the stigma and the dramatic impact of mental health issues all across the country, and none other than Clara Hughes, six-time Olympic medalist, has stepped forward to lead this campaign. A community leader and philanthropist who knows and has inspired Canadians, Clara has experienced the impact of mental illness and understands how important it is to get people talking about it at home, at school, and around boardroom tables.

On January 28, 2015, Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell will once again encourage Canadians to be part of this important national conversation to fight the stigma surrounding mental health. Each year, this national campaign raises awareness about mental health issues across Canada. And again this year, for every text message sent, wireless call and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers, and every time someone joins our campaign on Facebook or Twitter, Bell will contribute 5¢ more to programs dedicated to mental health.

Better access and better care

Only one-third of those who need mental health-related services in Canada will receive treatment, often due to the stigma associated with mental illness or because they simply do not have access to programs in their community.

Bell supports a variety of organizations including grassroots agencies, local hospitals, and universities to help provide Canadians with support services when and where they need it. Bell is proud to support and partner with leading health care institutions across the country including:

  • $1 million to the Royal Ottawa Hospital Foundation to expand its Telepsychiatry Program benefiting rural, northern, and remote communities
  • $1 million to La Fondation de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal to support innovative research and a new mental health biobank
  • $10 million to CAMH Foundation (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) to take the world-leading institution past its landmark $100 million fundraising goal
  • $300,000 to the Fondation Hôpital Charles-Lemoyne for its adolescent psychiatric unit
  • $250,000 to the Streetohome Foundation to provide support to homeless or at-risk youth living with mental health issues and addictions in BC

Our $1-million Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund was launched in 2011 with a focus on improving access to care in local communities. More than 150 grants to organizations supporting mental health in Canada were awarded from 2011 to 2013. Grant recipients for each of these years can be found here. The Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund call for applications will open in early 2015.

Bell: Leading by example

Mental health is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and represents 15% of Canada’s burden of disease. As a leading employer, Bell is committed to leading by example in our own workplace and is an early adopter of the voluntary Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

We are also working with corporate Canada and the health care community to develop and adopt mental health best practices in the workplace. The first of its kind in the world, the standard offers guidance to Canadian businesses and other organizations in addressing mental health and mental illness in the workplace. With 500,000 Canadians missing work each day because of a mental illness, the impact in lost labour-market participation was an estimated $20.7 billion in 2012 alone.

At Bell, this includes enhanced and easy access to mental health information for Bell team members, including seminars and other learning events throughout the year, and advanced return-to-work programs.

All Bell senior leaders and managers are taking part in new training and information programs. Bell is participating in corporate roundtables and other initiatives to support the creation of an overall culture of mental health support across the Canadian business landscape.

A free copy of the standards can be downloaded from the CSA Group at

Supporting best-in-class

Mental illness represents 15% of the burden of disease in Canada and is the leading cause of disability in Canada, accounting for 30% of disability claims and representing 70% of the total costs. Yet only 5.5% of our healthcare dollars in Canada are dedicated to mental illness.

Around the world, hundreds of millions of people are affected by mental illness. It is expected that by 2020 it will be the leading cause of disability on the planet. But without adequate funding, the groundbreaking research that is needed to find cures and explore treatment options won’t happen.

Bell is supporting research into understanding and treatment with investments in best-in-class research programs at hospitals, universities, and other institutions across Canada. Bell is also supporting the best researchers with funding of new chairs, fellowships, and project grants.

Here are some of the projects that Bell is proud to be supporting:

  • Bell has donated $1 million to the University of British Columbia to establish the Bell Youth Mental Health
  • Impact Project, which will allow UBC researchers to conduct mental health outreach to youth in need throughout BC.
  • Bell is donating $2 million to the Douglas Mental Health University Institute in Montréal for research activities associated with the Douglas-Bell Canadian Brain Bank, a world-class brain centre unique in Canada.
  • Bell Canada and Queen’s University announced a world-first: the creation the Chair of Mental Health and Anti Stigma Research to better understand the causes of stigma and how best to eradicate it.

Dr Heather Stuart

Bell Let’s Talk: The 5 simple ways to help fight the stigma around mental illness

  1. Developed with Dr. Heather Stuart of Queen’s University, the world’s first chair in anti-stigma research
  2. We can all help end the stigma and build support for those who struggle with mental illness
  3. To learn more, please visit

The 2015 Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign invites all Canadians to learn about 5 ways we can all help fight the stigma around mental illness. Developed in partnership with Dr. Heather Stuart, the Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University, the 5 ways combat the stigma that keeps too many who struggle with mental illness from seeking the help they need.

One in 5 Canadians will experience a mental illness, yet 2 in 3 of those who struggle will not seek treatment options for fear of judgment or rejection. They may not tell anyone at all that they have a problem because of the stigma.

“If you were diagnosed with a serious physical illness, you’d expect and almost certainly get emotional and social support from people around you – not the silence, gossip, jokes or discrimination often faced by people with a mental illness,” said Dr. Stuart, an internationally renowned professor of community health and epidemiology. “That stigma is the reality for many Canadians who struggle, but we can all help provide necessary support to family, friends and colleagues by keeping a few straightforward approaches in mind.”

These 5 ways to communicate about mental illness show your support and can help those who struggle overcome their concerns about seeking help:

  • Language matters – pay attention to the words you use about mental illness
  • Educate yourself – learn, know and talk more, understand the signs
  • Be kind – small acts of kindness speak a lot
  • Listen and ask – sometimes it’s best to just listen
  • Talk about it – start a dialogue, break the silence

“We thank Dr. Stuart for her important work in anti-stigma research and for her guidance in developing approaches we can all employ to help break down the stigma,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “It’s an effort supported by leaders like Clara Hughes who speak openly about their own experiences, sharing stories with others who’ve struggled and taking the message of hope to everyone.”

TSA031414-Clara1.jpgClara’s Big Ride was a heroic effort on the part of Canada’s six time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes to raise awareness and reduce the damaging stigma that still lingers around mental illnesses.

Sharing a message of strength, hope and recovery on her unprecedented cycling journey around the nation, Clara talked openly with Canadians everywhere about her personal battle with depression. VIDEOS HERE

Her Big Ride placed a spotlight on those who have successfully managed their mental illnesses and were willing to talk about it. If someone like Clara is open about what dealing with mental illness is like, that helps create a climate in which everyday people who struggle can feel more comfortable about reaching out for help. READ MORE


We know. We all do.

Today, you have the opportunity to fuel the change you want to see.

Donate and you will help people living with mental illness and addiction recover faster, inspire hope through research discoveries, and help eliminate the painful stigma.

You can, with your donation, help stop mental illness from destroying lives.


Follow on Twitter – @BELL_LetsTalk and be sure to share this message to help show your support! ‪#‎BellLetsTalk‬

LIKE US on Facebook – Bell Let’s Talk

Previous GRANT Recipients, ONTARIO

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