Supporting #BellLetsTalk: Why Joining the Conversation Is Necessary

MCIS staff were asked what mental health means to them; here are some of the responses

By Sanah Matadar, Social Media Coordinator

‘Join the conversation,’ and ‘Today, let’s talk!’ These slogans are likely on every other post of your social media feeds today, most probably followed by the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. It began as a single day in 2010, to aid in eliminating the stigma that surrounds issues of mental health and mental illness. Unfamiliar with how it works? For each tweet and RT that includes the official hashtag, Bell donates 5 cents to mental health initiatives across Canada. For each view of their official video on their Facebook page, they donate 5 cents. For each time a user chooses the Bell Let’s Talk filter on Snapchat or Instagram, 5 cents are donated. While 5 cents does not seem like much, in the 9 years since its inception Bell has donated over $93 Million. That’s a lot of nickels! Moreover, a whopping 87 percent of Canadians reported that the creation of Bell Let’s Talk had made them more aware of mental health issues

This year, MCIS is proud to participate in the day that not only represents a worthy cause, but a cause that resonates with many of our own clients. Minorities are more likely to struggle with their mental health, and less likely to access help. Consider a refugee resettling in Canada; they have escaped some form of persecution or danger, and likely faced a violation of human rights. They may be separated from their families, or have lost love ones. Add the stress of trying to assimilate to a new community and culture, learning new customs, and it all takes a mental toll, putting these individuals at a greater risk for mental illness. Indeed, a 2018 study by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the Hospital for Sick Children found that newcomer youth are more likely to find themselves in the emergency room (ER) for their mental health; 61 percent of this group sought help from the ER, rather than a primary care physician. And how about Canada’s Indigenous population? Just last week, the chief of Nova Scotia’s large Mi’kmaq community called a mental health crisis, following multiple suicides in just a few weeks. These two examples illustrate the vitality in fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness. It may be, as is the case for many Canadian newcomers, that these minority populations are coming from positions where discussing mental health is taboo. Consequently, they avoid getting help, and if and when they do, it may not be from the best place. Alternatively, the problem as a whole can be attributed to accessibility; do these groups know where to seek help? Are those places close or far to them? Is there a waitlist? It is a complicated issue, and only through talking about it can any changes be made.

MCIS strongly supports and believes in ‘Joining the conversation,’ and talking about mental health. However, a message seen repeatedly in this conversation is that mental health does not discriminate. This is why there is a need for mental health resources to become increasingly accessible, to adequately aid Canadians who may not speak or feel comfortable speaking English. The conversation on mental health definitely needs to happen, but it does not need to be solely in English.

For multilingual mental health resources:

When is it a good idea to ask for help?: https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/information-in-other-languages

Research on different mental illnesses and possible therapeutic/pharmaceutical interventions: http://www.multiculturalmentalhealth.ca/clinical-tools/mental-health-information/

Understanding mental health and substance use: http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/other-languages

World Health Organization’s report on Suicide Prevention (in 9 languages): https://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/world_report_2014/en/