January 28 is Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada, a campaign that encourages dialogue about mental health and raises funds for mental health initiatives. Established 11 years ago, Bell Let’s Talk is now the world’s largest conversation about mental health. The more we talk openly about mental health, the sooner the stigma surrounding it will diminish. This year, the discussion seems more vital than ever as an increased number of people report that they are experiencing depression and/or anxiety.
We have all been impacted by the stresses of the past year, but people who are likely to feel the effects most strongly include people who are older, people with mental health conditions, people with few social supports, children and teens, and frontline workers, including teachers.
What Can We Do?
The first step in reducing the stigma around mental health and to getting support is to open a dialogue. If you need help, talk to someone. And if you think someone may be struggling, ask them about it. Check in with your friends and family, your colleagues, and your students – because young children are experiencing an increased amount of stress this year, too.
Bell Let's Talk shares these five tips for talking about mental health:
1. Language matters: the words you use can make all the difference.
2. Educate yourself: knowing the facts and myths about mental illness can be a great way to help end the stigma.
3. Be kind: simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you are there for them.
4. Listen and ask: being a good listener and asking how you can help can be the first step in recovery.
5. Talk about it: mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Most people with mental health issues can and do recover, just by talking about it.
courtesy of Bell Let’s Talk
Another important tip is to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Stay connected with others, maintain as many of your routines as possible, and focus on the things in your life that you can control. Remember to exercise and get outside when you can. Eating healthily and getting regular sleep also help. Most of all, be brave and talk to someone. Be part of the conversation and help reduce the stigma around mental health. #BellLetsTalk
Visit the Bell Let's Talk website for helpful tips, a downloadable toolkit, support services, and information about the campaign.