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#MUSELetsTalk: Why Bell Means Well

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Be sure to check out Bell’s page to find out more about this great day: http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

January 25. For the past couple of years, this day has marked the designated mental health awareness day by Bell, thanks to their notorious social media campaign #BellLetsTalk. So, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about how, in 2017, more than 6.5 million dollars were raised to help end the stigma that surrounds mental illness. That is 18.5% up from 2016, and the year has just begun. Let’s talk about how this remarkable company is using social media to reach ALL demographics, each year expanding and adjusting to what is most effective for all. Let’s talk about how Bell is one of the first major companies to bring recognition to the importance of mental illness. Yet, I still see negativity surrounding this ground-breaking campaign.
An article I read during the day of the campaign seemed as though it was written to do just that: bring out the negativity that the campaign works to eliminate, instead of recognizing the pivotal changes that this day has brought. So, let’s talk about some of their main points.

Bell has used this opportunity to put their name in the hashtag. This campaign has become a game-changer for the company. They have taken their brand and their service and turned it into a social activist movement. One that any customer can participate in, Bell has changed the way fundraising works by utilizing an accessible platform and is a powerful example of how to use what you’ve got to your best advantage. Now, their name not only represents a service provider, but also a company that supports the serious reality of mental illness.

Bell has deemed this one specific day to represent mental illness. One day. Over 6.5 million dollars. Over 125 million social interactions. This one day gives individuals the courage to speak out. This one day’s purpose is to start the conversation. This one day has business partners, co-workers, high school friends, and family members spreading the word to bring awareness to mental illness. The truth is: everyone is impacted by mental illness in some way. This one day offers a start to the conversation and, being 2017, the success that this campaign has brought thus far shows the tone of where this conversation is headed— and it’s a good one.

Bell has used Canadian celebrities to endorse the campaign, but these endorsements come with real stories. These endorsements inspire others and show individuals that it is OK not to be OK. From TV personality Howie Mandell to Olympian Clara Hughes, Canada has banded together as a united team to start the conversation around mental illness. The stigma that surrounds it needs to be broken, and if our everyday idols and favourite TV show hosts bring attention to starting the conversation, it’s bound to reach more of the population.

Mental illness is not a beautiful tragedy. It is not poetry, it is not easy, and it is not a joke. Mental illness is as real and impactful as physical illness. These illnesses can affect moods, work habits, sleep cycles, eating routines, and behaviour, but these side effects are only surface level. Mental illness is debilitating and often hidden. Just because it can’t always be seen, doesn’t mean it should be silenced. The stigma that surrounds this illness needs to be destroyed by building a comfortable space for those affected to come forward and share their experiences, as well as for allies to support them. So, let’s talk about how the conversation has begun— and soon, maybe we can talk about how the conversation will finish.

Emily Battler
Online Contributor