Bell Let's Talk Day ad showing a dad and daughter in front of hockey net

How to participate in Bell Let’s Talk Day 2021

It’s been a difficult 10 months for so many Canadians.

While everyone has tried their best to slow the spread of COVID-19, our daily lives have not been even close to normal.

Some people have spent hundreds of days alone, physically distanced from friends and family, relying on video technology to maintain any kind of connection.

Parents are doing their jobs in whatever office space can be created at home while trying to keep their kids engaged with their education.

Essential workers deserve so much thanks for keeping our country going, but they’ve taken on additional stress from just being out in the world and not knowing when the next person they encounter might infect them.

Bell Let’s Talk Day:
Information and resources related to mental health and COVID-19

High performance athletes have seen their competition calendars wiped clean, their training shut down, their Olympic dreams or retirement plans put on hold amidst the greatest uncertainty of their careers.

More than 600,000 Canadians have contracted COVID-19 and sadly more than 16,000 of them have lost their lives. The grief and strain felt by them and their loved ones cannot be underestimated.

No matter your situation, it’s okay to admit that you’re not okay.

And with the 11th edition of Bell Let’s Talk Day upon us on Thursday, January 28, there’s no better time to share your struggles and what you’ve done to manage or overcome them. We can all help and learn from each other.

Now more than ever, every action counts.

How can I participate in Bell Let’s Talk Day?

On Thursday, January 28, Bell will donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives for each of these actions:

Don’t forget that Bell Let’s Talk Day begins at 12:01 a.m. Newfoundland Time on January 28. So you can get your fingers moving to raise money as early as 10:30 p.m. ET and 7:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday night and then keep going all day Thursday!

What has been the impact of Bell Let’s Talk Day?

Since the first Bell Let’s Talk Day in 2011, more than $113 million has been raised for Canadian mental health initiatives via more than 1.1 billion interactions. That includes a record-breaking 10th anniversary in 2020 when the more than 154 million interactions prompted a commitment of more than $7.7 million dollars by Bell for mental health.

Over the last decade, more than 4.4 million Canadians have been supported with access to mental health services via the more than 1100 organizations with which Bell Let’s Talk has partnered.

That’s hugely important as there have been more than 2.3 million crisis and distress line users.

READ: The ABCs of mindfulness
7 steps towards improving your mental health

Close to 1.9 million children and youth have been reached and more than 1.4 million staff and volunteers have been better trained in aspects of mental health. More than 800,000 Canadians have been supported through technology-based mental health programs.

Perhaps most encouraging, 83 per cent of Canadians say they believe that attitudes about mental illness have changed for the better since Bell Let’s Talk was launched.

You can learn more about how funds raised are benefitting Canadians across the country here.

How can I cope with stress and manage mental health amid a pandemic?

The Canadian Psychological Association developed some information and tips which have been shared by Bell Let’s Talk and may be helpful while our lives are affected by COVID-19.

It’s important to recognize signs of stress, which may be psychological and/or physical. Everyone will react just a little differently when faced with the same situation, but some things to watch for might include: fear and worry about your health or that of loved ones; changes in sleeping or eating patterns; difficulty sleeping or concentrating; chronic health problems becoming worse; increased use of alcohol and other substances.

It’s equally important to do what you need to take care of yourself, which could include: taking care of your body with exercise, healthy food, and sufficient sleep; maintaining as normal a routine as possible; focusing on what you can control and not worrying about what you can’t; sharing your concerns with people you trust; taking breaks from pandemic-related news.

When you can, take care of others who might be more susceptible to stress during this crisis, such as:  older people and those with chronic diseases; frontline workers; people who live alone; people who are already have mental health conditions; children and teenagers.

Professional psychological help might be beneficial to someone displaying these signs and symptoms: irregular sleeping; feeling anxious, depressed or having panic attacks; feeling angry, guilty, helpless, numb or confused; not wanting to get out of bed; difficulties concentrating; excessive eating; consuming more alcohol or drugs; having little patience. There are many virtual mental health supports available, such as Wellness Together Canada, CMHA, and Kids Help Phone, as well as other resources.

How can I help end the stigma about mental health?

There are five simple ways everyone can help end the stigma that keeps two out of three people who struggle with mental health silent:

1) Realize that language matters and choose appropriate words and phrases that don’t hurt others.

2) Educate yourself because having the right tools, knowing the right words, and truly understanding how to speak to someone with mental illness can be a difference maker.

3) Be kind and offer support. Do the little things that let someone know you are open for conversation and there for them.

4) Listen and ask. You can help someone take the first step to recovering their mental health by just really hearing what they have to say and asking how you can assist.

5) Finally, just talk about it.

Olympians talk about mental health

Olympic athletes are heroes to many, none more so than those who have bravely talked about their mental health struggles. They’ve battled and overcome depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health conditions and we thank them so much for sharing. We hope that reading or watching some of their stories can help someone suffering feel a little less alone.

READ: Steph Labbé: A story of depression, a bronze medal and the power of resilience
Olympian Emily Overholt’s “huge sense of relief” in opening up about mental health
READ: Travis Gerrits soars over the stigma of mental health  

WATCH: François Imbeau-Dulac: Struggling with an eating disorder
WATCH: Rosie MacLennan: Battling and overcoming anxiety
WATCH: Mercedes Nicoll: “I didn’t know if I would ever get my sparkle back”