This Thursday, January 28th, join the conversation on the Bell Let’s Talk Day! Advocacy and awareness efforts are some of the ways we can work together to help break stigma surrounding mental illness and create a shift in community. Bell Let’s Talk Day is an important reminder to have conversations around mental health and mental illness with the people in your life. Many individuals suffer in silence, in fear of judgment of their mental health challenges.
This national campaign is taking action by creating a platform for individuals to have a voice and share their mental health story. One in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime (1). Mental illness indirectly impacts all Canadians either through a family member, friend, or colleague (1). It is important to differentiate between mental health and mental illness. Everyone has mental health. Mental health encompasses how individuals tend to their mental well-being. Mental illness, however, is considered a health condition impacting an individual’s thinking or behavior, causing distress and inability to function in social, work, or family activities (2). Mental illness shows up in many different forms, such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideology, self-harming behaviors, and eating disorders.
Many mental illness stigmas still exist in our society. Mental illness stigmas, such as “it’s all in your head” is a phrase that is very judgmental and diminishing of an individual’s personal experiences with mental illness. Unlike other forms of illness where physical symptoms are very apparent, mental illness can often fall under the radar, as individuals may not reveal signs of their personal struggles, due to perceived stigmas.
Mental illness impacts people across all age demographics, income levels, and cultural backgrounds (1). Stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness continues to perpetuate a cycle of silence and isolation, presenting a significant barrier for individuals to access adequate support services and treatment (1).
Another key initiative of the Bell Let’s Talk Day, is to raise vital funds to support leading Canadian Mental Health organizations response efforts and support services addressing mental illness (3). Bell Let’s Talk allocates $13 million in funds toward community grants for mental health organizations (3).
You might now be asking yourself: What can I do? Here are a few things you can do to recognize and care for your own mental health, as well as join the conversation to raise awareness and break stigmas surrounding mental illness.
RECOGNIZING SIGNS OF STRESS (3).
Stress impacts people differently. Here are some indicators to look for to recognize signs of stress.
• Fear about your own health or health of loved one.
• Feeling worried constantly.
• Changes in sleep and eating patterns.
• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Recognize the importance of your own self -care. Make it a priority to take care of yourself. Identify ways that help you cope with stress.
• Ask for help. Reach out for support. Talk to a trusted friend, or family member. Seek counselling support.
• Engage in activities you enjoy.
• Take care of your mind and body. Exercise, rest, and eat well balanced meals.
JOIN THE DIALOGUE
Navigating conversations around mental illness can be challenging at times. Join in the conversation by sharing what you know with the people in your life. Including family members, friends, and in your workplace.
Need help on how to approach this topic?
Check out the Bell Let’s Talk Conversation Guide Toolkit https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/toolkit (3).
BE KIND & NON-JUDGEMENTAL
Lastly, spread kindness.
• Be aware of the language you use.
• Show others kindness - you never know what someone may be going through.