Tag Archives: Clara Hughes

Mental Health and the Success of Let’s Talk

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Just over one week ago, Bell Media continued with its multi-year initiative called Let’s Talk in support of mental health. In 2017, the campaign – which now stretches across the CTV network and the entire Bell network, as well as social media sites – raised more than $6.5 million. Now in its 8th year, the campaign has raised a total of $79,919,178.55 for mental health. As a result, “institutions and organizations large and small in every region received new funding for access, care and research.” The aim is to reach $100 million by 2020. Something tells me they’re going to crush that goal.

More importantly, just as the program name indicates, people are finally talking about the issue. The purpose of talking about mental health and depression in public and with the public is to reduce/remove the stigma attached to these subjects. Although Bell leaves much to be desired when it comes to telecommunications technical support(cough, cough), I have nothing but the utmost respect for what they started in 2010 with the Let’s Talk program, and to Clara Hughes for having the strength to be the national spokesperson. For that, if nothing else, Bell Media is to be lauded and applauded.

On a related note, I recently came across a site called Natalie’s Lovely Blog, which is run by a very brave and well-spoken 19-year-old named Natalie Breuer. She writes about a number of subjects, but it was the one entitled “On Depression” that caught my eye.

While I support the Let’s Talk initiative 100%, it’s important that we don’t address mental health for just one day out of the year and then forget about it until next January. For many people, it’s a crushing condition that spans every minute of every day – 365 days a year. If you want to help, reach out, donate or merely learn more, I can think of no better place to start than the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH), an institute with a mandate and access to resources like no other I know of in Canada.

As Barbara Kingsolver, the acclaimed author of The Poisonwood Bible, wrote in The Bean Trees:

“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold – with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.”  

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World Mental Health Day

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In support of #WorldMentalHealthDay, which falls today, October 10, I’d like to point out a few things.

1) It’s encouraging to see countries finally starting to realize that mental health is not a stigma, but a bona fide disease. In Canada, for example, 20% of us Canucks will experience some form of mental illness in our lifetime.

2) Kudos to Bell Canada through its Let’s Talk campaign, and its spokesperson, Olympic champion Clara Hughes, for making this a subject of national conversation here North of 49. Since its launch in 2010, the initiative has raised more than $50 million, and plans to raise at least $100 million for mental health-related projects by 2020

3) Here in Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is playing a hugely positive role in addressing this issue and subsequently treating the disease to the best of its ability. Of course, places such as CAMH could always use more funding – especially private donations – but despite  allegations from someone south of the border whose skin tone matches his man rug, Canada’s healthcare system (and by extension its mental healthcare system) is not “catastrophic,” nor do we head en masse to the U.S. for medical treatment annually. (In a comprehensive study of 18,000 men and women that was published in the journal Health Affairs, 0.005% of Canadians received medical care in the U.S. based on a recommendation from their doctor, while a mere 0.001% did so of their own volition.)

4) There are a million and one scholarly books on the subject of mental health, yet there are also a number of down-to-earth fiction/non-fiction works on the subject, too. Goodreads.com has a pretty long list of books shelved as mental-health, with some of the top-rated ones (in alphabetical order by title) being the following: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness by Elyn R. Saks, Impulse (Impulse #1) by Ellen Hopkins, Equating the Equations of Insanity: A Journey from Grief to Victory by Durgesh Satpathy, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

(P.S. Many of these same writers are what are known as “Goodreads Authors,” meaning they often hold chat sessions with readers in real-time through goodreads.com, and sometimes even take personal emails to talk about their work(s).)

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