Talking, texting, tweeting, Facebook sharing — who doesn’t do this on a daily basis? These forms of communication through social media and the virtual world have become part of people’s daily lives. It’s so natural to interconnect in this way that it’s an almost automatic part of our daily routines. In effect, the fact that so many people do it is what drives Bell Mobility’s ingenious initiative in relieving the stigma and raising funds for mental health in Canada.
On Jan. 28, Bell will be donating five cents for every text message, long distance call, tweet #BellLetsTalk and Facebook share of the companies Let’s Talk image. This will add to their current fund of $62,043,289.30, which is being used to help raise awareness for mental health.
Clara Hughes, national spokesperson for mental health and Canada’s very own six-time Olympic medalist is leading the pack again, and has been doing so since 2010.
“We all have family members, friends or colleagues who will experience mental illness or we may struggle ourselves, as I have, yet most people impacted still won’t seek support because they fear admitting they need help,” Hughes explains on Bell’s website.
Oliver Aveline, an English literature student at Concordia, agrees with the initiative,“I see any attempt to help relieve the stigma is a step in the right direction. The concept is pretty genius too.”
While nearly a quarter of the Canadian population suffer from some form of mental illness, two thirds of them suffer in silence, in fear of being rejected from society. By limiting themselves from alleviating their pain, their issues worsen, thus sweeping the problems under the rug, so to speak, until there is no more room left to cover the problem up.
“I think that people are aware but do not know how to handle it,” says Stephanie Moutzouris, a science student at Concordia. “They would see someone with a mental illness as having a problem or being weird. If not explicitly told that this person has a condition, they would have no explanation for behavioral patterns and would not have enough knowledge to see the traits of a mentally ill person, just someone who is odd.”
According to Gabriella Szabo, the health promotion specialist at Concordia University, one in five Canadians are affected by some form of mental illness. Whether it be related to anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, schizophrenia, you name it, having 20 per cent of the population experience such an issue is something to consider.
Nevertheless, “there is hope with proper treatment,” she says.
“Some people see accessing mental health services as a sign of weakness or something to be embarrassed about,” Szabo explains. “I encourage everyone to view accessing mental health support as just another calculated, strategic, and efficient tool to make you more successful in your academic, professional, and personal life. Going to see your professor, reading your textbooks, joining a study group; mental health support is just another tool to ensure your success.”
In an effort to support students and other members of the Concordia community who may be struggling with mental health issues, Concordia will be holding several workshops, fairs and activities from Feb. 10 to Feb. 14.
Manage your Mental Health workshops
February 10-February 13 1:00-2:00pm at Counselling and Development office Room H-440 Henry F. Hall Building, Sir George William Campus
Let’s Talk: Mental Health and Wellness Fair
February 12 11:00-3:00pm
Abe and Harriet Gold Atrium of the Engineering Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV Building), Sir George Williams Campus
A Fair of the Heart
February 14 11:00-3:00pm
Mezzanine of the Henry F. Hall Building, Sir George Williams Campus