Today is the third annual “Bell Let’s Talk Day”, a national promotion designed to engage all Canadians in the dialogue around mental health. Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives across Canada for every:
- Text message sent*
- Long distance call made*
- Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
- Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image
* By a Bell or Bell Aliant customer
The ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign is one of the pillars of the Bell Mental Health Initiative, which was launched in 2010 with a $50 million commitment by Bell to reduce the stigma of mental illness in this country.
For more information, have a look at the attached video with Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes and visit Bell Let’s Talk portal www.bell.ca/letstalk
There is a special Queen’s connection to this initiative on the research front that is a world first. Dr. Heather Stuart, a professor in Community Health and Epidemiology in the Faculty of Health Sciences, is the Bell Canada Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair.
In the year since we announced the Chair, Heather has been working hard to augment the global efforts to address mental health stigma. Two books she co-authored were published; Paradigms Lost: Fighting Stigma and Lessons Learned[i], Oxford University Press (Stuart, Arboleda-Flórez, and Sartorius); and, Mental Illness, Discrimination and the Law[ii], Wiley-Blackwell (Callard, Sartorius, Arboleda-Flórez, Bartlett, Helmchen, Stuart, Taborda,Thornicroft). She played a leading role on behalf of the World Psychiatric Association and Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in organizing the 5th International Together Against Stigma Conference [iii]in Ottawa with 670 delegates from 29 nations. Heather is also the principal investigator for the MHCC’s Youth Practice Network[iv], practice-based research program involving a network of 20 school based anti-stigma programs that use a combination of active learning with contact-based education.
I encourage you to view this video from the Queen’s Initiative Campaign to hear Heather talk about her important work.
Closer to home, the conversation on mental health is a priority at Queen’s. The Principal’s Commission on Mental Health[v], led by Dr. David Walker and included Dr. Jennifer Medves (director of our nursing school), tabled their final report last fall. Wellness is also one of the pillars in the Queen’s University Academic Plan [vi]
Please support Bell Let’s Talk Day by texting, tweeting, ‘liking’ and talking about mental health. One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lives: it is an issue that affects us all and the ‘conversation’ needs to be year-round. If you have any stories about mental health stigma, respond to the blog…or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.
P.S I would like to thank our communications officer, Peter Aitken, for his assistance in preparing this post.