It’s that time of year again when the popular Bell Let’s Talk campaign takes place to encourage people to become more vocal about mental health. On January 25th (TODAY), Bell will donate 5 cents towards mental health initiatives every time you talk, text, or join in on social media – so get talking, texting, and typing! Here are six ways you can take part in the Bell Let’s Talk campaign on January 25th:
- Text (iPhone users, turn off iMessage);
- Make phone calls (local or long distance);
- Tweet using #BellLetsTalk;
- Post on Instagram using #BellLetsTalk;
- Watch the Bell Let’s Talk video posted on their Facebook page; and
- Post on SnapChat using the Bell Let’s Talk geofilter.
Our blog this week is inspired by the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, in the hope of joining and expanding on their efforts to end the stigma around mental illness and to get people to start talking about the things that matter!
Mental health is not often an openly discussed topic. People often TALK with friends, family or colleagues about topics such as nutrition, exercise, acute or chronic somatic illness or injury – physical health – yet, when it comes to depression, trauma, counselling therapy, suicidal thoughts, self-harming behaviours, avoidance of meaningful activities due to anxiety or fear – mental health – the silence is profound. Why is physical fitness an accepted and popular conversation piece in today’s society, yet mental fitness is an eluded one? Has evolution taught us that inner struggles, the struggles we cannot see or touch, are to be kept within?
When an individual is suffering from mental illness, it may become difficult or effortful to act in ‘’socially acceptable’’ ways, which may be why many choose to hide away or withdraw themselves completely. We have been taught that crying in public makes us “weak”, that not being able to perform at work makes us “inadequate”, that shying away from social situations makes us a ‘’loner’’, and that talking to a psychologist, counsellor, or therapist makes us ‘’crazy’’. So, if these common characteristics or symptoms of mental illness have been labelled with such terms, then does it not seem that the most logical ways of coping would be to just disappear, or to keep everything on the inside so that no one ever sees that which is not meant to be seen? Little do many know, that although they may be alone in their hiding spot, they are not alone in the struggle with mental illness, and the only way they will ever come to know that is if people start TALKING to one another.
So how can we put an end to this bitter silence around our struggles with mental health? We can make noise; we can raise awareness; we can write; and we can TALK. But where do we begin? How do we start TALKING about mental health, when it is a topic that has been avoided or ignored for years and is replaced with more popular topics, such as the weather or our plans for the weekend? In no way am I suggesting that we start talking about our thoughts, feelings, and emotions instead of the party we attended over the weekend, but I am saying that discussing the contents of our inner world is just as important and should be considered just as ‘’normal’’ of a topic. We have all attended a weekend party, just as we all have unwanted and difficult inner content.
If we do not TALK to one another and open up, we are left to rely only on our observations or our assumptions of those around us, rather than truly knowing them. For example, we may assume that if we do not observe any physical limitations or restrictions, then an individual does not have a disability; we may assume that if an individual dresses, sounds and appears of male gender, that he/she is truly of the male gender; that if an individual is always smiling and laughing, that they are truly happy; or that if an individual is always surrounded by people and has a big family, that they have a strong social support network. The problem here is that these are all assumptions and they can often be wrong. That person that is always smiling may be hiding their suffering behind a smile, or that person surrounded by family may feel completely alone in the world. This is why we need to TALK.
Even if you, yourself, are not struggling with mental illness, someone close to you may be, and you may never know it, so TALK. TALK to your sibling who you are angry at, TALK to your friend who you have lost touch with, TALK to someone that doesn’t know how often you think of them. If you are struggling with mental illness or you think you might be, TALK to a professional, TALK to your friends, your family, or someone you can count on. You will be surprised at how far TALKING can take you. Let’s put an end to the silence surrounding mental illness, let’s discuss our inner content, good or bad, and let’s not make assumptions – let’s TALK.
Check out more information about the Bell Let’s Talk campaign on their website: http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/
If you are looking for someone to talk to, we have a number of qualified counsellors that are available to talk, and more importantly, to listen. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in setting up a free consultation.