But seriously, let’s talk

Bell Let’s Talk campaign points to larger issues in mental health advocacy.

Every year, Bell Let’s Talk Day strikes a chord. As the event on Jan. 24 approaches, I want to talk more about exactly what makes this seemingly well-intentioned campaign a bit unsavoury, and how its nature is indicative of larger issues. 

For context, Bell Let’s Talk was started in 2010 by the telecommunications company Bell Media as the largest mental health initiative in Canada. Though it’s an ongoing campaign, each January is marked by a specific day where their advertising goes full force. I’m sure everyone is familiar with their pledge to donate five cents to mental health programs for every text and social media interaction that includes #BellLetsTalk, and the subsequent flooding of similar messaging—although in 2023, the company announced they would replace this strategy with a $10 M lump sum donation. 

In a sense, the campaign filled an important gap, as few other major companies are so vocally dedicated to the issue of mental health. This advocacy takes the form of four pillars, according to their website: “fighting the stigma, improving access to care, supporting world class research and leading by example in workplace mental health” (which is ironic considering past allegations concerning Bell’s working conditions). Their mission statement in contrast to their actions can be scrutinized, along with their overall mental health advocacy campaign. 

The name itself is problematic to many who have speculated on the corporatization of mental health and the fact that Bell features its own name so boldly. In a 2019 statement, the company claimed that “it put its name on the campaign because no one else would,” as mental health was discussed very little at the time. Still, this is a very effective advertising campaign that ultimately benefits the company, no matter what cause they’re supporting. Maybe I’m biased—personally, I’m skeptical of any major corporation that claims to be doing a good deed—but publicity is still publicity.

The publicity often takes the form of short videos about mental illness coupled with alarming statistics (such as this one, which tackles suicide rates in Canada). Though destigmatizing conversations around mental illness do need a starting point, the videos are a little reductive and sensationalized. The presentation usually includes a shock factor, and the solution is always the same: just reach out. The campaign implies that talking about it is the most difficult step, but fails to acknowledge the systemic issues within mental health programs. Sure, there are resources out there. But how good are they?

Mental health resources are just another part of a broken health care system that is often inaccessible, damaged by bureaucracy and a lack of proper care. From what I’ve witnessed through friends and family members who sought help, the truth is quite jarring; the health care system, particularly in the sector of mental health, can actually be quite cruel. 

People must jump through endless hoops to acquire care, while being condescended by healthcare workers or mental health professionals and being exposed to environments that are not conducive to healing (the state of psychiatric facilities is a topic begging for its own article). These issues are even more prevalent for marginalized communities, with countless examples of injustice and malpractice in the healthcare system. 

It’s ironic that those who need help the most are often dehumanized by systems that claim to be the solution. I can’t help but be disillusioned by the notion of seeking help, and resentful of any campaign that reduces such a complex issue to such a simple solution. This isn’t to disregard the campaign’s message as a whole: talking about mental health is of the utmost importance, and we do have to start somewhere. However, we also need to reflect on societal factors that contribute to mental illness—a broken system is not the solution. 

Issues with mental health advocacy do not begin or end with Bell. Bell Let’s Talk is just one example. The way that mental health is discussed points to the need for a complete reform. Though efforts have been made to destigmatize mental illness and improve access to needed services, this is only the beginning.


Joel Slavik opens up after losing friend to suicide

Receiver wants to continue the conversation about mental illnesses

The Concordia Stingers hosted their annual Bell Let’s Talk game when the men’s hockey team played the Queen’s Gaels on Jan. 18.

In past seasons, Stingers men’s hockey team captain Philippe Hudon has made his struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder public. He’s been the Stingers’s ambassador for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign in the past, and has seen his teammates open up.

Though an arena might not be the most common place to have a conversation about mental health, Hudon has seen people opening up. “Not in my locker room,” said Hudon when asked if there’s still a stigma. “I think we’re pretty open about it. No matter the sport, I think it’s becoming more normal in a sense.”

This year, Joel Slavik, a slotback on the football team, opened up on social media with his own personal story. He lost a friend to suicide last March, and wanted to share his friend’s story.

“It’s the first Bell Let’s Talk day since he passed, and I just wanted to bring a little bit more awareness to the issue itself,” Slavik said. “I found the best way with dealing with it is just to talk about it, and bring it to light.”

After Slavik lost his friend, he started asking a lot of questions about mental illness to better understand what his friend went through. “How I dealt with it was talking to his family, and his brother reached out too,” Slavik added.

“When someone is dealing with depression or suicidal thoughts, it’s really easy [for them] to think that their problems [are] the end of the world, and will never get better,” Slavik said. “But I would just let them know it’s just a rough patch and won’t be something they will be going through for the rest of their life. It’s something I wish I could have told [my friend] at the time, but not many people knew about it.”

Bell Let’s Talk aims to end the stigma around mental illness and encourage conversations surrounding it. Clara Hughes, a former Summer and Winter Olympian, battled depression and helped start Bell Let’s Talk in 2010. Since then, more athletes have become involved in the campaign, including former Montreal Alouettes safety Étienne Boulay and Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock.

“With sports, there’s the whole, ‘Get over it, next-play’ mentality, which is great in sports,” Slavik said. “Overall, when something that significant happens, it’s really important to see how it affects you and how it affects others, instead of trying to sweep it under the rug.”

Slavik wants to see people be more open to sharing, but he wants to see it throughout the whole year, not just on Bell Let’s Talk day. “If you’re feeling this kind of way, there are resources and there are people who want you to talk about it and be vocal,” Slavik said.

After Slavik’s video was published on social media, he received support from friends in his hometown of Calgary, and from other Stingers athletes. “I just wanted to do it for [my friend] and just to prevent it from happening in the future,” Slavik said.

Bell Let’s Talk day is Jan. 30, and Concordia students struggling with their own mental health and wellness can visit the counselling services offered by the school, or call Concordia Students’ Nightline.

Main photo by Kyran Thicke / Concordia Stingers.


Bell Let’s Talk needs to be more than just talk

As most of us know, Jan. 31 was dedicated to the mental health awareness campaign Bell Let’s Talk. On that day, the telecommunications powerhouse donated five cents to Canadian mental health initiatives for every text message or call made between Bell users and for social media engagement ranging from viewing Bell Let’s Talk videos to using the campaign’s Snapchat filter to tweeting #BellLetsTalk.

The purpose of all this, according to the campaign’s website, is to reduce the stigma around mental illness, improve access to care and support mental health research. Since the first Bell Let’s Talk Day in 2011, the awareness campaign has raised $93.4 million (nearly $7 million on Jan. 31, 2018). This is undoubtedly a tremendous contribution to our society. In Quebec alone, 16 mental health institutions, organizations and hospitals have received between $200,000 and $2 million in funds from Bell Let’s Talk since 2011 (for a total contribution of about $9.4 million).

The initiative is about more than just money though. It’s about starting a conversation. Statistics Canada estimates one in five Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life. Scrolling through social media feeds on Jan. 31 revealed countless stories about these Canadians and their experiences with mental illness. People opened up about their struggles, their journey and their hope. That evening, CTV aired “In Their Own Words: A Bell Let’s Talk Day Special” in which regular Canadians spoke openly about their mental health.

These stories are the stories that give others the strength to speak up. These are the stories that will spark empathy among those who might otherwise alienate. These are the stories that will change the way our society perceives and responds to mental illness. Bell Let’s Talk Day has certainly played a major role in making these stories heard. Yet, we at The Concordian want to remind our readers of the necessity to keep this conversation going and to build off of Bell’s initiative.

Tweeting a campaign hashtag or liking a video on Facebook one day a year is only the first step in a process that requires consistency and concrete action. If your social media activity contributed to the funds collected on Jan. 31, thank you. But do not think that absolves you of your responsibility to support this cause for the rest of the year.

In the book Digital Mosaic: Media, Power and Identity in Canada, author and communications professor David Taras warns that activism on social media tends to give users “the illusion of involvement without its substance.” This can lead many to substitute real commitment and action with “cheap and convenient” Internet activism. It is a behaviour Taras and other scholars refer to as “slacktivism.” It is a trap we at The Concordian caution you against falling into.

So keep the conversation going, and keep it going outside of the digital world. Be proud of your involvement in Bell Let’s Talk Day, but don’t think that alone makes you a mental health advocate. If you truly care about this initiative, expect more from yourself. Share your story or support others who do; educate yourself about what language can be harmful or helpful; challenge stereotypes and misconceptions. If you truly care about this initiative, truly get involved. Mental health issues and our society’s perception of them are complex; change requires much more than just one day.

Graphic by Zeze Le Lin

Student Life

Concordia, let’s talk about our wellbeing

Learn about the university’s resources and services at Chime In’s mental health fair

Last year, Bell Let’s Talk brought together members of the Concordia community looking to keep the conversation about mental health going throughout the year. They joined forces to create Chime In, a group aimed at informing students about the mental health resources available to them on campus and in their community. With this goal in mind, Chime In will be hosting a mental health fair on Jan. 31—which coincides with this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day.

Chime In—an acronym that stands for connectedness, hope, identity, meaning and empowerment—is a collaborative effort between Concordia students and student organizations, the university’s counselling and psychological services, as well as the Montreal-based non-profit Collective Community Services (CCS). Also among the group’s members are, a national organization that aims to eliminate the stigma around mental health, and the Concordia Students’ Nightline, an evening and weekend listening service.

“As a counselling service, we realized that we can’t do everything alone,” said Howard Magonet, the director of Concordia’s counselling and psychological services. “The more partners we have to go out and talk about mental health to reduce stigma of mental illness, the better.”

The mental health fair will welcome representatives from Chime In and other Concordia services, such as the campus wellness and support services, the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC), recreation and athletic services, Concordia’s Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre and the Native Resource Centre. “The fair will provide a really important forum and fabric to the community,” said Alia Nurmohamed, a Chime In student representative.

“Often people don’t have the vocabulary to even understand what they are going through,” said Jillian Ritchie, a spokesperson for CCS. “[So we] help give them the resources and the information they need.”

Chime In’s goal is to change the discourse around mental health by focusing on a holistic view—taking care of one’s wellbeing at all levels. According to Concordia psychologist Irene Petsopoulis, the fair will focus on the four pillars of mental health: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. There will be activities showing the value of physical exercise in improving mental health. The fair will also showcase alternative methods to talk therapy, such as pet or art therapy, the latter of which is offered by community art studios called Art Hives.

Some people feel more comfortable using one technique to improve mental health rather than another, Magonet explained. The fair will expose students to a wide range of methods so they see how varied the help can be and determine what feels right for them, he added.

The fair’s inviting environment will encourage students to ask questions and find out what resources are available to them, Nurmohamed said. “[The fair] starts a conversation that invites people in a way that is not intimidating,” she added. “We’re at a turning point in the way we converse about mental health.”

The mental health fair will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the atrium of the EV building. For more information about the event, visit the Concordia website.


Philippe Hudon leads charge to end stigma

Concordia Stingers men’s team hosted the Bell Let’s Talk game ahead of campaign

For a second year in a row, Philippe Hudon, captain of the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team, is leading a cause close to his heart.

Hudon is Concordia’s representative for the Bell Let’s Talk campaign to raise awareness about mental health and to end the stigma surrounding it. Hudon himself was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in 2010.

The Stingers hosted their Bell Let’s Talk game on Jan. 12 at the Ed Meagher Arena in a 4-2 loss against the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes.

“Unfortunately we didn’t come out on top today,” Hudon said following the game. “I think a lot of guys worked hard, not just for myself but for the cause itself. I think they realized it’s something that’s important for me.”

At the game, representatives from Bell were handing out noisemakers, hats and temporary tattoos for fans. There was also a ceremonial puck drop before the game between Hudon and the Patriotes’ captain, Pierre-Maxime Poudrier.

After the Stingers first hosted the Bell Let’s Talk game last year, Hudon spoke about his mental illness with CTV News and The Concordian. Since then, head coach Marc-André Élement said Hudon has been involved around the Stingers athletic complex to help out any other athlete who wants to talk.

“Last year, we had a lot of response from student-athletes who contacted him,” Élement said. “The fact that he’s really involved, it shows his leadership for that cause.”

Hudon said it’s great that almost the entire month of January is dedicated to opening up about mental health and trying to end the stigma around it. But the fourth-year finance student said he’s open to talk year-round.

“For me, being a survivor of OCD, I’m still trying to work out the finer details of it, but I’ve struggled, and I’m happy to say I’ve come out on top,” Hudon said. “Now, I’m someone who could lend an ear. I could just listen to people who are living it. I like to be there for those people. I’ve gone through the struggle; it’s really not easy, let alone talking about it.”

Head coach Marc-André Élement said he will make sure the Stingers support Hudon (pictured) for the cause. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

However, Hudon said everyone needs to keep the conversation going even after January. “It’s something that’s with you the entire year. It’s not something that you can notice for one month then just let it go.”

Last year, Bell said they had 53 universities and over 20,000 student-athletes involved in the campaign. According to CTV, the 2017 Bell Let’s Talk campaign, which donated money based on texts, phone calls and social media interactions on Jan. 25, raised over $6.5 million for mental health programs. This year, the campaign will take place on Jan. 31.

Since the Bell Let’s Talk campaign started in 2010, Hudon said he has seen the cause grow tremendously.

“The workplace, now, is being more proactive and creating these seminars and being there at all times for people who need the support,” he said.

While Hudon aims to end the stigma surrounding mental health, his head coach and the rest of the team will be by his side.

“It’s fun to be part of such a great cause, and we’re happy to support him,” Élement said.

Concordia students looking for someone to talk to can visit the mental health services at the downtown campus in room GM-200, or at the Loyola campus in room AD-131.

Main photo by Alex Hutchins


Let’s talk about corporate philanthropy

Analyzing philanthropy in major businesses in an age where PR is everything

During the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, which took place a couple of weeks ago, social media sites were brimming with people sharing their experiences with mental illness in an attempt to raise awareness. For every tweet, Instagram post, Facebook videoview and Snapchat geofilter that mentioned the campaign, and for every call or text made by a Bell customer on Jan. 25, Bell donated five cents to various mental health resources.

Millions of people supported the campaign, including celebrities like Ellen Degeneres, Ryan Reynolds and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to an article by CTV News, the campaign raised $6.5 million this year, and more than $79 million total since its debut in 2010. This event is simultaneously one of the most effective mental health fundraisers and awareness campaigns in Canadian history, and also one of the greatest marketing strategies of all time.

Bell was the number one company on everyone’s minds on the day of the event, and in a context of selfless philanthropy no less. It can be assumed, however, that selfless wasn’t entirely the case. The purpose of the campaign, in part, was undoubtedly to spread brand awareness, and thus grow financially.

Is there a problem with the duality of this campaign? Does its success from a marketing perspective take away from its success in raising awareness for mental health issues?

According to an article in The Globe And Mail, out of 1.2 million Canadian children affected by mental illness, only a quarter receive appropriate treatment. It is clear that there is a stigma around mental illness, because it is not being treated the same as a physical illness—such as a broken bone—to which Canada’s health care always provides adequate aid.

In order to end this stigma, we need to be comfortable talking about it as a real illness, and we need some loud voices to start the conversation. In our society, corporations hold a lot of power and influence, thus they have some of the loudest voices.

They are capable, then, of effecting real change and, as is the case with Bell Let’s Talk Day, that change can be extremely positive. My only problem with it is that the economic market that we live in runs on self-interest, and it is hard to see any corporate act outside of that context.

For me, Bell crossed a line in using mental illness in the manipulative, profit-driven environment of the marketing world. Mental health is such a serious issue to people who have been affected by it. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness at some point in their lifetime. I’m convinced that Bell saw an opportunity to capitalize on that fact, and that they don’t really have the interest of those with mental illnesses in mind.

Hints of this emerged on the day of the campaign, when the CBC broke a story about a Bell Media employee who was fired after requesting time off—with a doctor’s note—to deal with their mental illness. Bell is still a profit-oriented company, and I think that to believe otherwise is not only false, but potentially dangerous.

In my view, Bell is capitalizing on mental illness. They are profiting off of the pain of millions of people, which is immoral. Bell’s power as a major corporation makes them one of our best resources for fighting the stigma around mental illness. However, I don’t think that we should view this as a permanent way to deal with the problem of mental illness in our society.

Once the conversation is more free and the stigma gone—or at least drastically decreased—the problem should be dealt with by more responsible institutions that solely have people’s best interests in mind—such as the government and not-for-profit organizations—rather than left in the hands of corporate companies that don’t. I propose that for now we view the Bell Let’s Talk campaign as a necessary evil, and as a stepping stone towards a society that deals with mental illness more effectively and morally.


Salacious scandal for Bell Let’s Talk

The Bell Let’s Talk campaign came roaring through our country last week, raising money and awareness for mental health issues. The campaign—one of the largest in Canadian history—raised $6.5 million through texts, phone calls and social media interactions that mentioned Bell Let’s Talk.

The money goes towards a variety of mental health initiatives in different regions across Canada. According to the Bell Let’s Talk website, the most recent funds were sent to the St. John Ambulance training program—to help integrate mental health training into emergency First Aid courses—and the Embrace Life Council program, a new mental health program by Nunavut’s Embrace Life Council, a non-profit suicide prevention organization, to name a few.

Here at The Concordian, we even made our front cover last week about the campaign, featuring Concordia Stingers hockey player Philippe Hudon, Concordia’s Bell Let’s Talk representative. We were proud of the piece and glad to contribute to this national conversation and help spread awareness on our university campus.

However, on Wednesday morning, several media outlets dropped a massive bomb. A story was published involving a Bell Media employee who was reportedly fired due to her mental health issues.

Maria McLean from Grand Falls, N.B. was working as a radio host for K93 FM when she met with her manager earlier this month. McLean presented her superior with a doctor’s note that stated she needed to take two weeks off to adjust to her new medication for her anxiety and depression. Later that afternoon, she was shocked to discover she had been fired from her post without any warning, according to CBC News. A representative from Bell Media refused to comment on the case, according to the same report.

It’s no surprise the story gained a lot of traction on social media, with many people wanting to abandon the Bell Let’s Talk campaign due to the media company’s hypocrisy. We even toyed with this thought ourselves.

However, it’s important to recognize that this story wouldn’t have gotten this much attention if it wasn’t associated with a giant media company in the midst of a massive mental health awareness campaign. Ideally, any company that deems mental health an illegitimate reason to need time off should be reported on and shared widely as well. It is not new that employers let their employees go for mental health reasons—this is a real issue. We need to start holding our own government accountable when it comes to funding mental health-related services.

We are calling upon Bell to launch a full investigation into Maria McLean’s case and release the report to the public. This is the only way to move forward and for the public to believe in the Bell Let’s Talk campaign in the upcoming years.

Here at The Concordian, we’ve decided to not abandon the campaign, even in the wake of this story. The work that Bell Let’s Talk has achieved is unprecedented, and we must take away the positives even in the wake of a scandal. We acknowledge Bell is a corporation with monetary and advertising interests, but it goes without saying that the campaign has been a huge catalyst in spurring a dialogue and spreading awareness about a complex issue.

Our masthead has never seen so many Facebook posts and Tweets from our social network describing their personal stories regarding mental health. We must recognize that many would not be courageous enough to talk about their experiences if it weren’t for so many others in their circle doing the same—this was initiated thanks to Bell Let’s Talk.

We encourage our readers to support the campaign, but more importantly, to keep supporting and talking about mental health, all year round.


Concordia hosts “One in Five” for Mental Awareness Day

Concordia organizes mental health fair in collaboration with Bell Let’s Talk on Jan. 25

“We want students to know that they are not alone. It is hard enough when someone is suffering from depression, but it’s made worse when you blame yourself for it and think that you’re all alone,” said Dale Robinson, the manager of Counseling and Psychological Services at Concordia University.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, one in five people will suffer from a mental illness or addiction, in their lifetime. Two out of three of those individuals will suffer in silence. In response, Concordia offers a variety of programs to students suffering from mental illness and looking for assistance.

On Jan. 25, Bell Media held its seventh annual #BellLetsTalk campaign to help de-stigmatize mental illness while raising funds for Canadian mental health programs.

In conjunction with this social media event, Concordia’s Counseling and Psychological Services hosted “One in Five” Mental Awareness Day, on Jan.25,  in recognition of the one in five people who will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.

The Mental Awareness Day at Concordia included a fair, which welcomed students, faculty and staff at the EV Building from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The fair offered information on different resources for support available at Concordia as well as in the greater Montreal region.The event featured several kiosks that provided students with insight about the different programs the university offers.

“Students with diagnosed learning disabilities are encouraged to come to the Access Centre for Students with Disabilities,” said Sanu Ariyarajah, a representative for the organization. “We offer a variety of services such as smaller classrooms, more time during exams, individual advising and workshops.”

Photo by Chloe Ranaldi, a non-profit organization designed by students for students with mental illnesses or suffering from emotional hardship, also had a kiosk at the event. “ reaches out to students who need help, and we help guide them to different resources available in their area,” said Michael Dorado, a representive. Concordia also has its own chapter.

“Most often times, students don’t know that counseling and psychological services exist at Concordia. Our role is to show students that [services] exist and are available to help them,” Dorado explained.

“Talking to someone, finding a group or going to counseling can be helpful,” Robinson said. “Talking in a group can help students get a sense of validation that what they are going through is normal and can happen to anyone.”


Bell Let’s Talk reaches Concordia

Stingers men’s hockey forward Philippe Hudon speaks out about his experiences with mental illness

In any given year, one in five Canadians suffer from a mental health or addiction problem, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

One of those Canadians is Philippe Hudon, a forward and assistant captain on the Concordia Stingers men’s hockey team. In 2010, Hudon was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The condition is described as a disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviours (compulsions) that they feel the urge to constantly repeat, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Since sharing his story with sports network RDS in 2014, Hudon has turned his condition into a positive experience and has lent his voice to the discussion surrounding mental illness. This year, he is the Concordia Stingers’ representative for Bell Let’s Talk Day.

According to Bell Canada, on Jan. 25, more than 20,000 university athletes from 53 schools across Canada will take part in an initiative to promote mental health awareness on campuses.

For Hudon, helping Concordia take part in the Bell Let’s Talk campaign is something he’s always been interested in doing.

“The Stingers have been really involved with community work,” Hudon said. “When I came in, about two years ago, I really wanted to make a difference, especially with the Bell Let’s Talk initiative which I had already touched upon previously when I was playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.”

One of the Stingers’ contributions leading up to Jan. 25 was the Bell Let’s Talk Day hockey game, which was held at the Ed Meagher Arena on Jan. 7. Before the match, which was against Ryerson University, the Stingers gave out pamphlets to raise awareness about Bell Let’s Talk and mental health in general.

Hudon, who is in his third year with the Stingers, got to take part in the ceremonial face-off before the game—an honour usually reserved for captains.

“It felt great to be a spokesperson for a great cause, especially with myself having been through times of hardship where I had to battle and come back better than ever,” Hudon said. “Being able to host a game and being able to be a part of the puck drop was pretty emotional, especially with all of my brothers on the ice with me.”

Apart from the game against Ryerson, Hudon has been involved with the Bell Let’s Talk initiative in other ways. For instance, he recently gave a talk at Kuper Academy in the West Island, where just one year ago, a student committed suicide.

Hudon talked to the students about mental health and his struggles with OCD. The assembly was organized by Kuper Academy student Ethan Chang with the goal of helping to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

“At first I was really excited to do it because I love getting involved like that, but I was also really nervous. I’ve done presentations in class but talking to 500 students was something big,” Hudon said. “It turned out to be a success and that’s something that I’m really proud of.”

As part of Bell Let’s Talk Day, Hudon was given the opportunity to share his story on a national level. Earlier this month, he spoke to a representative at Bell about his struggles, and was approached by media outlets such as CTV and TSN for features.

Since airing his story on a major network three years ago, Hudon said he has become more confident in sharing his experiences. He said he will talk to anybody who is willing to listen, and believes it’s important to share his story with as many people as possible.

Hudon took part in the ceremonial face-off during a game against Ryerson on Jan. 7. Photo by Brianna Thicke

“I think that I can make a difference,” Hudon said. “By sharing my story, I hope I can help people whether they are affected personally by mental illness or not, or whether they know someone who is affected and that it gives them the tools that will help them in the near future.”

The Bell Let’s Talk initiative, whose official spokesperson is Olympian Clara Hughes, has been around since 2010 and has grown every year since. In 2016, the campaign broke its donation record, with over $6 million raised for mental health programs across Canada.

Hudon said it’s been incredible to see the increasing support for the initiative, and he feels that people are really starting to care about issues surrounding mental health.

“It makes me feel comfortable and happy that people aren’t just supporting Bell Let’s Talk for hashtags and social media. I think there’s more to it,” Hudon said. “I see more and more people actually want to get involved and want to know more. We want to include everybody in society and the growing number of spokespeople and donations is progress that makes me feel warm and happy.”

For those with mental illness who are worried or afraid about sharing their experiences, Hudon said it’s a tough situation. However, he said something that helped him when he was struggling was surrounding himself with his friends and family who were truly there for him.

“By sticking with your true friends, it’s going to make it a lot easier to talk because you know those people won’t judge you and will just listen,” Hudon said. “My motto is ‘lend an ear.’ For people who aren’t affected, just listen and be there for someone and make sure they aren’t lost and don’t feel like an outsider.”

If you’re a student at Concordia who is suffering from any mental health issues and needs someone to talk to, Health Services is open to all students and is located at 7141 Sherbrooke St. West in room 131 of the AD building.

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