Bell Let’s Talk Day: Starting the Conversation Around Mental Health
The Bell Let’s Talk initiative began in 2010 with the goal of starting a conversation about mental health, and mental illness in Canada. Since then, the initiative has become the largest corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, with over one hundred million dollars in donations. This incredible accomplishment helps demonstrate how important the conversation about mental health is to so many Canadians. But there’s still a lot of work to do.
The stigma around mental health remains a major barrier to progress on the issue, as is education and awareness. Until we can finally end the stigma and educate our communities on mental health, we will struggle to identify those in need of support who feel the necessary channels to recovery may not exist. Talking to one another about how we feel and sharing our own struggles and experiences is a great start.
Mental Health and COVID-19
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians and those across the world. Prior to the pandemic, Canada was already facing a mental health crisis, reports the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Now, 50% of Canadians have reported worsening mental health conditions since the beginning of the pandemic with 44% feeling worried and 41% feeling anxious (CAMH, 2020). A survey of Canadian workers similarly showed that 81% of workers felt their mental health was negatively impacted by COVID-19 (CAMH, 2020).
Bell Let’s Talk
Bell Let’s Talk promotes awareness and action about mental health with a four-pillar strategy:
- Anti-stigma: a movement to get rid of the negative stigma surrounding mental illness through education, awareness and understanding, allowing all to feel capable of speaking freely and shame-free about their mental health conditions.
- Care and access: supporting care and access for a variety of organizations to care for mental health needs, including agencies, hospitals, and universities.
- Research: promotion and involvement of research around mental health and illnesses to better understand signs, symptoms, treatments and cures.
- Workplace health: promoting the importance of mental health in the workplace as 1 in 3 workplace disability claims in Canada are related to mental illnesses.
This year, Bell Let’s Talk Day takes place on January 28, 2021. On January 28th, Bell will donate more towards mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing 5¢ for every applicable text, call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, social media video view and use of their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.
If you would like to make a direct donation to the Bell Let’s Talk initiative, click here!
How Can Employers Increase Mental Health Awareness?
As amazing as Bell Let’s Talk Day is, mental health and mental illness are two topics that should be discussed frequently, much more than one day a year. Here are some other things you can do year-round to support the movement to increase mental health awareness:
- Educate yourself on the importance of maintaining mental health, building resiliency, and on the different types of mental illnesses for a better understanding and less judgmental viewpoint. Develop the skills to identify and support employees in distress – our newest date for Manager Mental Health Training is January 26th, 2021 at 12:30pm to 4:30pm EST.
- Use appropriate language when talking about mental health – avoid phrases like “crazy,” “psycho,” or implications that someone’s mental illness is not valid
- Talk openly and freely about mental health and mental illness whenever you can – let those around you know there is nothing wrong with taking care of mental health
- If someone you know is having mental health concerns or is diagnosed with a mental illness, show support by listening to their concerns and asking how you can help
How Can Employees Take Care of Their Mental Health?
- Build resiliency – physical, emotional, social, thinking and spiritual resiliency.
- Practice gratitude – focus on the things in your life that you are grateful for.
- Practice mindfulness – try grounding techniques and being present in the moment.
- Take time for self-care and activities you enjoy – hobbies, reading, getting out in nature, etc.
- Engage in social interactions – laugh with friends and spend time with loved ones virtually. Following public health guidelines, you may choose to join one other household if you live alone or meet outside for a physically distanced visit.
- Participate in physical resiliency activities such as exercise, sports, or going for walks.
- Contact your emotional supports when you are going through a challenge or have experienced trauma.
- Examine your experiences and find strategies to manage any anxiety or mood changes.
- Ask for help – call a distress line, call your EAP, or talk to your health professional if you are distressed or thinking of taking your own life or not feeling yourself.
If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis, please call 911 or go directly to your local hospital.
How Can Gowan Consulting Help?
People in all different professions miss work due to mental health concerns, ranging anywhere from single day call-ins to long term disability leaves. It’s important for employers to know how to help with mental health issues in the workplace. Here are some other tools that can also be implemented:
- Check out our new Working from Home Series! We are offering live sessions as well as a webinar bundle deal to help you get a fresh start for 2021. Our webinars cover mental health, home ergonomics, tips for working during COVID-19, and more. Get the webinar bundle for yourself or for your whole organization! Our first live session is Making Working Remotely Feel Normal and it will be taking place on February 10th from 1:00 to 2:00pm EST. Get $20.00 off your next live session or the bundle when you sign up. For more information, you can contact us at email@example.com
- Listen to Nicolette Gowan’s new meditation “In the Now with Nicolette”— now for free on Youtube!
- TIPS for Return to the Workplace Program– Consider enrolling in our new 4-session work-focused CBT program to assist you or your employees in having the strategies to successfully return to or stay at work.
- Gowan Consulting is an essential service provider, so we remain open at this time. We provide virtual assessment and intervention services using secure platforms. When virtual service is not appropriate, our Occupational Therapists will provide in-person services following government, public health, and regulatory body guidelines. Make a referral here.
- We would like to invite you to join us on our Journey to Happiness Challenge! Get your free workbook and ask your friends, colleagues, and employees to join!
Mental Health in Canada: Covid-19 and Beyond CAMH Policy Advice, July 2020, http://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/pdfs—public-policy-submissions/covid-and-mh-policy-paper-pdf.pdf
Bell Let’s Talk Day, 2021, https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/