Bell Let's Talk gives more than $1 million to BC mental health programs

$1 million to UBC's Institute of Mental Health for Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project
$250,000 supports Streetohome and Covenant House Semi-Independent Housing Program
Clara Hughes announces second annual Bell Let's Talk Day on February 8, 2012

VANCOUVER, Nov. 16, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell Canada today announced gifts of $1.25 million to support mental health in British Columbia, including $1 million to the University of British Columbia's Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for the Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project, and $250,000 to the Streetohome Foundation as part of Covenant House Vancouver's Semi-Independent Housing Program.

"We are very proud to welcome UBC and Streetohome as our newest partners in the Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative," said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE. "The research, care and access these mental health leaders will provide to youth and young adults support key pillars in Bell's national mental health program. Alongside anti-stigma efforts like Bell Let's Talk Day, this important work is changing attitudes and driving action to promote mental health across our country."

UBC's Bell Youth Mental Health IMPACT Project
The IMPACT Project will allow UBC researchers to develop new web-based strategies to encourage and facilitate help-seeking behavior, including providing access to informed decision-making, assessment and interventions in young adults coping with symptoms of anxiety, depression and related conditions throughout BC. The project will also explore online expert consultation services for young adults and primary care providers in remote regions of BC.

"As with all UBC initiatives, the Bell Mental Health IMPACT Project will seamlessly integrate our core objectives of teaching, research and community engagement," said Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Chancellor, UBC. "Bell's generous donation comes at a very exciting time, as UBC launches its Start an Evolution capital campaign."

"The Bell Let's Talk initiative is embracing a range of partners, from major mental health institutions to the many grassroots organizations in British Columbia that are part of the Bell Let's Talk Community Fund," said Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let's Talk initiative. "We are pleased to partner with UBC's Institute of Mental Health as they develop innovative technological solutions to enhance care and access for young adults, and with Streetohome as they work directly to provide care for homeless youth affected by mental illness."

Streetohome Foundation
Bell today announced a $250,000 contribution to the Streetohome Foundation, dedicated to providing support to homeless and at-risk youth living with mental health and addiction issues. As part of Covenant House Vancouver's Semi-Independent Housing Program, where trained and highly experienced staff will help create a safe housing environment, the program will provide mental health and addictions evaluations, offer counseling and psychiatric support as well as addictions management counseling, and help these youth develop essential life skills.

"Bell's contribution attests to the success of the collaborative work being carried out by organizations like Streetohome and Covenant House Vancouver," said Dick Vollet, President & CEO Streetohome. "We know that mental illness dramatically decreases the chances of homeless youth securing safe and affordable housing. We are very proud to have the support of the Bell Let's Talk initiative in addressing this challenge."

Bell Let's Talk Day - February 8, 2012
Canadian Olympian and Bell Let's Talk national spokesperson Clara Hughes today announced that the second annual Bell Let's Talk Day will take place on February 8, 2012.

Bell Let's Talk Day is a national event to get people talking about mental health and fight the pervasive stigma around mental illness. Bell donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives for every text message and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers on Bell Let's Talk Day. The more than 66 million text messages and long distance calls made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers on the inaugural Bell Let's Talk Day in February 2011 generated $3.3 million in new Bell funding for Canadian mental health programs.

"Canada really stepped up on Bell Let's Talk Day 2011 to help break the continuing stigma around mental illness, a stigma that actually means that most who suffer from the disease won't seek the help they need," said Ms. Hughes. "Let's keep breaking down the barriers of fear and misunderstanding - join me and Canadians from sea to sea to sea in the national conversation about mental health on Bell Let's Talk Day, February 8 2012."

The facts of mental illness and its impact underscore the need for accelerated support for mental health at all levels in Canada:

  • At least 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a form of mental illness at some point in their lives - every one of us has a family member, friend or colleague who will experience mental illness
  • Mental health funding is modest relative to other health care issues - mental illness represents 15% of Canada's health care burden but receives just 5% of health care funding
  • Just one-third of Canadians who need mental health services actually receive them
  • Mental illness is the number one cause of workplace disability in Canada - accounting for 30% of disability claims and 70% of disability costs
  • Mental illness costs the Canadian economy $51 billion each year in lost productivity - every day, 500,000 Canadians are absent from work due to a form of mental illness

The Bell Let's Talk Mental Health Initiative
Bell Let's Talk is a $50-million, multi-year charitable program that promotes mental health across Canada based on four key pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, research, and workplace best practices. It's the largest-ever corporate investment in mental health in Canada. To learn more about the Bell Mental Health Initiative and the Bell Let's Talk anti-stigma campaign, please visit bell.ca/letstalk.

UBC - Institute of Mental Health
The UBC Faculty of Medicine provides innovative programs in the health and life sciences, teaching students at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. Its faculty members received $295 million in research funds, 54 percent of UBC's total research revenues, in 2010-11. For more information, visit www.med.ubc.ca .  The UBC Institute of Mental Health is home to a community of clinicians and scientists who are fully committed to re-examining the field of mental health and mental illness, and to seeking new insights into the diagnosis and treatment of some of the most challenging issues in modern medicine.

About Streetohome Foundation
Streetohome is dedicated to ensuring that residents of our city have access to safe, decent, affordable housing and the support they need to make a difference in their lives. Streetohome is the first organization in Vancouver to take a systematic approach to addressing both homelessness and its root causes. Learn more at www.streetohome.org.

About Covenant House
Covenant House provides three core programs (street outreach/daily drop-in, crisis shelter and a 6 - 24 months transitional living program) for homeless and at-risk young people aged 16-24.  Through a carefully designed "continuum of care," Covenant House assists young people from the moment when we first meet them on the street right through to full independence when they graduate from our transitional living program.  All three programs are supported by in-house drug and alcohol counsellors, mental health clinicians and access to psychiatrists.  Last year, over 1400 young people came to Covenant House looking for a way off the streets. Learn more at www.covenanthousebc.org.

About Bell
Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers and business with solutions to all their communications needs: 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 Media is Canada's premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio and digital media, including CTV, Canada's #1 television network, and the country's most-watched specialty channels. Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For Bell products and services, please visit Bell.ca. For BCE corporate information, please visit BCE.ca.


SOURCE BELL CANADA

For further information:

or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact:

Jacqueline Michelis
Bell Media Relations
jacqueline.michelis@bell.ca
1-855-785-1427

Brian Kladko
UBC Faculty of Medicine
Brian.Kladko@ubc.ca
604.827.3301

Lyndsay Yuasa
Streetohome Foundation
lindsayy@streetohome.org
604 629-2711 ext.104

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