A $100M commitment over the next five years has been made to the well-known mental health awareness initiative, Bell Let’s Talk.
According to Mary Deacon, chair of the program, the purpose of Let’s Talk is to build a stigma-free environment in Canada around mental illness.
“Stigma is the reason that the majority of people with mental health issues don’t seek treatments,” she said. “Two thirds of people with mental health issues say the reason they don’t seek support and help is because they fear stigma — that is why it’s so important to our initiatives, because it is the single biggest barrier for people getting help.”
In Sept. 2010 when Bell Let’s Talk launched, the company made a $50M commitment for five years. However, Deacon believes that the program has more work to do.
“The research we shared at our press conference last week shows that progress is being made, but there’s a lot more work to be done — stigma remains a big issue, but also access to care.”
One of the most high profile aspects of the program is the participation of Canadian Olympian, Clara Hughes, who biked 11,000 km over 110 days in 2014 to get people talking about mental illness, as part of Clara’s Big Ride for Bell Let’s Talk.
Last year Hughes, a national spokesperson for the program, was also the famous face behind the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, which encourages Canadians to openly discuss, text and tweet about mental health issues.