This year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day was held on January 25th and raised over six and a half million dollars towards mental health research.
Every year Bell Media picks a day in which they pledge to donate five cents for social media interactions, text messages sent and long distance phone call made. This year’s social media interactions included the standard Tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts with the hashtag BellLetsTalk as well as a new Snapchat filter.
Bell Media began the day as part of their initiative started in 2010 to get people talking about mental health and mental illness. Their goals include ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, improving access to care, supporting research and helping people suffering in the work place. They hope to donate 100 million dollars in total by 2020. They have currently donated almost 80 million dollars since the campaign began.
The day has become very popular since it was first started in 2011 and it is expected to continue to grow in the years to come. In their first year they had just over 66 million interactions compared to this year with almost 126 million, setting a new record.
St. Thomas University has become a bug supporter of the day. A fair is held in James Dunn Hall every year with tables set up by students and staff giving out refreshments and items to help students with mental health issues. Maggie Macfarlane a big supporter of the day as she herself has anxiety and says every little bit helps.
“It’s nice to have a day specifically for that and to spread awareness and get people talking about it,” Macfarlane says. She and many other students at St. Thomas feel that while so much is being done, there is always more that can be done. Events are held throughout the year to help students reduce stress surrounding school work and school life. Macfarlane says that more events like the ones held on Wednesday need take place regularly. St. Thomas student Madison Lucas also believes the day is important because it gets people talking.
“Keeping it bottled inside just makes the mental illness that people have worse. So I feel like this is kind of like a pressure to talk. I’ve seen posts on Facebook from people I didn’t even know and they were talking about it,” said Lucas. She believes that talking is almost more important than the money that is being donated.
The day was a success overall. Both St. Thomas and Bell Media were able to get people talking about mental health and help end the stigma that surrounds it. Both hope that next year will be even more successful and the positive vibes surrounding the issue will continue to override the negative ones.