Mental health awareness gets boost from Bell

Jan 27, 2015 | News

(Ryan Melaugh via Flickr under Creative Commons License 2.0)

(Ryan Melaugh via Flickr under Creative Commons License 2.0)

By Christina Succi

Mental health experts this week were cheering efforts to raise awareness about the issue, including a high profile campaign by Bell Canada on Wednesday.

“Anything that creates conversation about Mental Health is part of the solution, and ultimately that is what matters most,” said Erika Scholz who works with patients everyday at the Mental Health Unit at South Health Campus Hospital in Calgary.

It’s great to see Bell using its brand to support efforts helping those with mental health issues, she told Humber News.

“Bell is a major social platform that withholds major influence and they are using this position of power to help bring critical awareness about mental health through multiple venues.” Scholz said.

“Although some people view this initiative as somewhat of a Bell marketing scheme- which of course it does generate a huge income and promotional attention for them – at the end of the day it’s spreading awareness, talking about mental health and informing others,” said Scholz.

The fifth annual Bell Let’s Talk campaign happens on Jan. 28, aimed at encouraging discussion about mental health disorders and reducing negative stigmas associated with victims of the disease.

Each year, Bell donates 5 cents to mental health for each text and phone call made by Bell customers and for every tweet or Facebook post with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on event day.

Two of Bell’s largest partnerships have been with Kid’s Help Phone and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

“We support organizations large and small across the country, you hear about the high profile ones like the ten million to CAMH… but we make numerous grants across the country, small and large, ranging from five thousand to fifty thousand dollars for front line mental line services in communities,” said Mary Deacon, the Chair of the Bell Mental Health Initiative.

“Each grant won’t change the world but it will make a profound difference in the life of an individual by delivering services to someone in a local community,” Deacon told Humber News from her office in Toronto.

Deacon said she started the campaign in 2010 because she was affected by the tragedies that come with a mental illness.

“Mental health and illness is so stigmatized, and so pervasive,” said Deacon.

Scholz said that, even if some people may question the corporate element to awareness day, any effort to combat the stigma of mental health is positive.

“Ignoring the good it [Bell] is doing to bring mental health issues to light — to instead focus on something more important like whether it’s a marketing scheme — is putting mental health on the back burner,” Scholz said.

“Everyday should be a day we talk about mental health, not just Bell Let’s Talk Day,” said Deacon.