Bell Let's Talk campaign in support of mental health launches today

Olympian Clara Hughes leads the way to Bell Let's Talk Day on February 9
Join the conversation about mental health and post your smile at bell.ca/letstalk

MONTREAL, Jan. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell today launched its national Bell Let's Talk campaign, featuring spokesperson Clara Hughes and inviting Canadians to join the conversation about mental health. Dedicated to reducing the stigma around mental illness, the campaign culminates on February 9 with the first annual Bell Let's Talk Day.

"Fighting stigma is critical to successfully changing perceptions about mental illness and promoting Canadian mental health," said Ms. Hughes, Canada's six-time Olympic medalist and national spokesperson for Bell Let's Talk Day. "Most of the 1 in 5 Canadians who suffer, and their families too, are afraid to talk about the disease. That means they won't get the help they need. That has to change, and I'm proud to support Bell Let's Talk Day to get the conversation started."

Mental illness faces far more stigma and fear than other diseases, even previously stigmatized diseases such as cancer. Those who suffer from mental illness and those close to them often fear a negative reaction from friends, co-workers or others. Consider these facts:

  • According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, people with a mental illness report that how others judge them is one of the greatest barriers to moving forward with treatment
  • The Canadian Medical Association found that just half of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member suffering from a mental illness, compared to the 72% that would discuss a cancer diagnosis
  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that stigma is the primary reason two-thirds of people living with mental health problems don't seek help.

Bell Let's Talk Day
The first annual Bell Let's Talk Day will take place on February 9, 2011. For every text message sent and every long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers that day, Bell will donate 5 cents to programs dedicated to mental health. Regular long distance and text message charges apply.

Starting today, Bell Let's Talk Day is being supported with a major national TV, print, radio and outdoor campaign that will run through February 9. Focused on Clara Hughes' world-famous smile and her own story of depression, the promotional campaign invites Canadians to join the conversation about mental health, and to show support by sending texts or making long distance calls on their Bell or Bell Aliant phones.

The Bell Let's Talk online portal at bell.ca/letstalk enables Canadians to join the conversation directly by posting comments, questions and a smile of their own, while learning more about mental health resources, the Bell Mental Health Initiative and the ways we can begin our own conversations, including at home and in the workplace.

"For Canadians dealing with mental illness, stigma is the single greatest obstacle to getting the help they need," said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell and BCE. "That's why a significant anti-stigma effort is one of the key pillars in the Bell Mental Health Initiative. Only by talking openly and respectfully about mental illness can we move Canadian mental health forward. That's why we're asking everyone to join the conversation with Bell Let's Talk Day."

The 5-year, $50-million Bell Mental Health Initiative, announced in September 2010, is the largest-ever program undertaken by a Canadian corporation in support of mental health. The effort is focused on 4 pillars: Anti-stigma efforts, improving care and access, research support, and new workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit bell.ca/letstalk or bce.ca/mentalhealth.

About Bell
Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers and business with solutions to all their communications needs, including Bell Mobility wireless, high-speed Bell Internet, Bell Satellite TV and Bell Fibe TV, Bell Home Phone local and long distance, and Bell Business Markets IP-broadband and information and communications technology (ICT) services. Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For information on Bell products and services, please visit www.bell.ca. For BCE corporate information, please visit www.bce.ca.



For further information:

Media inquiries:

Albert Lee
Bell Media Relations
416 525-6564
albert.lee@bell.ca