Phone company calls on every Canadian to talk about mental health.
Students at the Prince Philip Drive campus of College of the North Atlantic who checked their email on Jan. 29 learned that therapy dogs were coming to the school for Bell Let’s Talk day.
Abby and Panda, two service dogs from St. John Ambulance, were on hand to help mark the national mental health awareness campaign.
Ted Power, a counsellor with CNA, said the campus had a simple reason for inviting the therapy dogs from St. John’s Ambulance.
“It’s just people like dogs. Dogs make people happy, and being happy is part of having very good mental health.”
Bell Let’s Talk Day exists to encourage people to talk about mental health. For every text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of the Bell Facebook frame or Snapchat filter, the company donates five cents towards mental health initiatives in Canada.
According to recent statistics from Statistic Canada’s, more than two million Canadians over 15-years-old had a mental health-related disabilities in 2017. Nearly half of these individuals felt that one or more of their conditions made it hard to change or advance in their job. One in four of these people believed it is due to discrimination or stigma.
Since 2010, the Bell Let’s Talk campaign encouraged people to work together to create a “stigma-free Canada” by talking about mental illness.
“Stigma can come from fear,” said Power. “It can come from not knowing something, but when people start talking about it, it comes out into the light because mental health was so not talked about for many years. For decades, for generations, it wasn’t really talked about.
“Physical health was no problem to talk about, but mental health was not ever discussed with any depth for many reasons,” Power added. “People were afraid of it; people thought they would do more damage than good.”
Fighting the stigma
CHANNAL is an organization that helps people with mental health issues. It offers confidential peer support in the form of Warm Line.
Warm Line is phone line people can call when they’re in need of extra support but aren’t in a crisis. The Warm Line employs trained people with first-hand knowledge of living with a mental health issues.
Monica Fletcher of Nippers Harbour has been a peer supporter for three years. Last month, she became the first public education and communications officer for her group.
Fletcher enjoys the feeling of helping to open minds to mental health issues when she speaks publicly.
“It’s very interesting to see faces change, and there is definitely still that stigma,” Fletcher said. “I support a number of people who have had to take four to six months off work and they are afraid: ‘What am I going to tell my manager?’ [or] ‘What am I going to tell my co-workers?’ It’s definitely still there but not as much as it use to be.”
According to Fletcher, Bell’s Let’s Talk Day does help people with mental illness.
“Well, of course, there is the money aspect, which they help a lot of really deserving organizations and help people who have mental illness,” Fletcher added. “(But) I noticed their video . . . and it’s just a lot of ordinary people staying this is what mental illness looks like. It is not always a homeless person on the street. . . it is everyday ordinary people. While there was a time I could not hold down a job, I could not get out of bed, I could not function for a long time. (It) doesn’t mean that at some point you cannot get better.
Recovery is real.”
If you’re interested in speaking to someone who has gone through mental health issues, call the Warm Line at 1-855-753-2560 for assistance.