- Clara Hughes leads a mental health conversation now spanning Canada and the globe
- Leaders and celebrities at home and worldwide join the chorus for acceptance and action
- Bell Let's Talk once again the top Twitter trend in Canada and most used around the world
- On our way to breaking $100 million: Bell's total donation to mental health programs now stands at $79,919,178.55
MONTRÉAL, Jan. 28, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Bell Let's Talk Day 2016 set all-new records as Canadians and people everywhere joined Clara Hughes, the Bell Let's Talk team, and you in what has become by far the biggest mental health campaign in the world.
"Canada, you rock! We know the need to talk about mental illness is clear, and I know from my travels all around the country that Canadians want to make a positive difference for those who struggle, and you have. But I'm truly overwhelmed by the depth and breadth of the non-stop conversation about mental health this year and by what we've all built together," said Clara, Canada's 6-time Olympic medalist and Bell Let's Talk national spokesperson since the initiative began in 2010. "We're the leaders. Canadians are well known for our compassion, and now we're setting a great example for people around the world who want to move mental health forward in their own nations, to talk openly about mental illness, and to fight the stigma every day as we do. Hey, was I proud for Canada when I saw our Prime Minister talking so openly and positively about mental illness? Did I cry? Yes and yes!"
Over the 28.5 hour period between midnight Newfoundland time and midnight Pacific time, Bell Let's Talk Day 2016 tallied 125,915,295 total interactions, including wireless calls, long distance calls and texts by Bell customers, and tweets and Facebook shares supporting Bell Let's Talk by people around Canada and worldwide. That's a 3.1% increase over the 122,150,772 total interactions on Bell Let's Talk Day 2015. With Bell's donation of 5 cents per interaction, at no extra charge to participants, that's $6,295,764.75 more for Canadian mental health programs.
"People ask me, is just one day like Bell Let's Talk Day really enough to take on a health crisis so pervasive, that affects all of us in some way, that has been so incredibly difficult to move forward for so long? And I say, but it isn't just one day. It's the kickoff to a conversation we want and need to have every day, and one that I think we are increasingly having all year long. It's the day when we all say: We won't allow the stigma, we won't allow the silence anymore, we're ready to make mental health part of our lives from this day forward. All year long. Lifelong," said Clara. "And let's not forget... Bell grows its donation to mental health with every message sent, and that donation funds advances in care, research and grassroots mental health initiatives every day of the year."
The top Twitter trend in Canada yesterday, #BellLetsTalk was the most-used hashtag in the world, with 6,826,114 total tweets and retweets – 43% more than last year. The #stopthestigma, #endthestigma, #mentalhealthawareness and #sicknotweak hashtags also trended throughout the day.
Support came from Canada's most prominent leaders including Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as the Royal family with tweets from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Will and Kate and Prince Harry too. During a special primetime airing of The Social, Prime Minister Trudeau shared his own experiences in a deep and personal conversation that included the studio audience.
All day long, Canadian party leaders, members of Parliament, provincial and territorial premiers and ministers, mayors and councillors, Olympians, professional sports teams and players, major corporations and a broad range of the most high-profile Canadian, US and global entertainers and other celebrities drove hundreds of thousands of retweets from fans and followers. To see these conversations, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.
"To Clara, to our tremendous Bell Let's Talk team, and to everyone who is helping move the cause forward, thank you for joining and growing Canada's mental health conversation like never before. Your participation continues to drive Bell's donations to mental health programs and we're excited at the impressive new initiatives we've been able to partner with already this year," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "The all-Canadian Bell Let's Talk has become a worldwide phenomenon, underlining what I think is a global aspiration for a major move forward in the way we view mental illness and practice mental health. Congratulations everyone, and thank you!"
New Bell Let's Talk projects
Bell Let's Talk has announced several new projects already in 2016, including a national psychological first aid training initiative with the Canadian Red Cross; a $1 million grant to l'Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec to fund groundbreaking research into early diagnosis of mental illness in young people using retinal scans; an initiative to support adolescents at risk in Yukon with trained mental health facilitators under the FRIENDS intervention program; and, in a $1 million partnership with Royal Bank, support for Rise Asset Development's low-interest small business loans, training and mentorship programs for men and women with a history of addiction or mental health challenges. These organizations join the more than 600 partners in every region of Canada supported by Bell Let's Talk since 2010.
Thank you to partners and friends
Bell Let's Talk extends sincere thanks and appreciation to the almost 300 Canadian corporations, hospitals and universities, governments, the Canadian Armed Forces, professional sports teams and associations, Bell community and mental health partners, chambers of commerce, and schools, colleges and universities across Canada that joined the conversation through events, promotions and advertising, social media, newsletters and websites.
The 2016 Bell Let's Talk team
Clara Hughes leads a Bell Let's Talk team that includes TSN host Michael Landsberg, comedian Howie Mandel, entertainer Mary Walsh, and Québec personalities Stefie Shock and Michel Mpambara. New to the team for 2016 are singer-songwriter Serena Ryder, actor Marie-Soleil Dion and retired CFL player Étienne Boulay.
Bell Let's Talk ambassadors professional golfer Andrew Jensen, comedian and writer Kevin Breel, CFL veteran Shea Emry, and musician Robb Nash return to the team again this year as well, sharing their own mental health stories and encouraging Canadians to add their voices to the conversation. Bell Let's Talk is also pleased to welcome three more new voices this year, Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock, legendary music producer Bob Ezrin and singer-songwriter Séan McCann.
Bell Let's Talk Community Fund
The annual Bell Let's Talk Community Fund supports organizations focused on improving access to programs and services to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people living with mental health issues from coast to coast to coast. Applications are now being accepted for the 2016 Bell Let's Talk Community Fund. The 2016 application period is open until March 31 and all 2016 Fund grants will be disbursed before December 31, 2016. To apply for 2016 funding, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.
5 simple ways to fight the stigma around mental illness
The Bell Let's Talk's campaign continues to build on the 5 simple ways to fight the stigma of mental illness developed by Dr. Heather Stuart, the first Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen's University. Learning the 5 ways enables anyone to engage in conversations about mental health in a manner that helps those living with mental illness and its stigma.
- 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
About Bell Let's Talk
Bell Let's Talk promotes mental health based on 4 action pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, new research, and workplace best practices. Bell Let's Talk was originally launched in September 2010 as a 5-year program with a $50 million donation from Bell, and a commitment to grow its funding based on the engagement of Canadians in the cause on Bell Let's Talk Day. In September 2015, the fifth anniversary of the initiative, Bell announced it would extend Bell Let's talk a further 5 years and commit to at least $100 million in funding for Canadian mental health – and based on continued growth in your participation on Bell Let's Talk Day, we are well on the way to greatly exceeding that number.
With approximately 598,383,571 million of these interactions by Canadians over the last 6 Bell Let's Talk Days, Bell's total commitment to mental health has now grown to $79,919,178.55. Since 2010, Bell Let's Talk has supported more than 600 organizations from the largest healthcare institutions and universities to the smallest grassroots mental health organizations in every province and territory.
Making a difference
A 2015 Nielsen survey undertaken on behalf of Bell Let's Talk found that 81% of Canadians were more aware of mental health issues than 5 years ago, 70% think attitudes about mental health have changed for the better, and 57% believe the stigma around mental illness has been reduced.
The numbers are even more impressive among young people aged 18 to 24: 87% are more aware of mental health issues than 5 years ago, 79% think attitudes are better, and 65% believe stigma has been reduced.
Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers and business customers with wireless, TV, Internet, home phone and business communications services. Bell Media is Canada's premier multimedia company with leading assets in television, radio, out of home, and digital media. Bell is wholly owned by Montréal's BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For more information, please visit Bell.ca.
SOURCE Bell Canada