What do Clara Hughes (@clarahughes), Howie Mandel (@howiemandel), Mary Walsh, Serena Ryder (@serenaryder), and Michael Landsberg (@heylandsberg) have in common? Yes, they are all Canadians, but that’s not it. These celebrities have all stepped forward in recent years and are now spokespeople for Bell Let’s Talk (@Bell_LetsTalk)! While their stories are as diverse as the people who connect to the Bell Let’s Talk message, they have come forward to help spread a message that the world has simply been missing.
So what is Bell Let’s Talk? This initiative began in 2010, as a means to promote public discussions around mental health and eliminate the stigma that has, unfortunately, been considered normal surrounding mental illness. Today, we know you’ve seen the hashtag #BellLetsTalk taking over your social media feeds (at least we hope that’s the case), but why is that? And is a simple hashtag really powerful enough to start a conversation that has been silenced for so long?
Let’s answer that first question first! The reason #BellLetsTalk has exploded across your social media feed is because for every tweet (or retweet), Instagram post, Facebook video view, and Snapchat geofilter used today, Bell (@Bell) is donating 5¢ to mental health initiatives across Canada. On top of that (for those of you who aren’t big social media users), Bell is also donating 5¢ for every text and call on their network today! Over the last 6 years, this initiative has steadily grown larger and larger, and Bell’s total donation to mental health programs now stands at $79,919,178.55, which shows they are well on their way to reaching the $100 million mark that they hope to achieve by 2020.
Now we’ll answer your second question with a simple “yes”! Yes, a simple hashtag can start a conversation that we desperately need. No the hashtag doesn’t do all of the work, and it can’t stand alone, but it is the starter that many of us have needed – it allows us to stand up and talk about something that has been seen as a “no-no” for so long. While we love hearing the stories from the celebrities that have personal experience with mental illness, it’s the stories of our peers and everyday men and women that are going through the same struggles as us that have stood above the others and are why we love this initiative so much!
While we believe that there is much more to an initiative than just social media promotions, we also know the power of social media (especially in today’s day and age)! It has the power to motivate, inspire, and transform! For those that once struggled alone with their mental illness, they now have a platform to share their story – and we love that aspect of this initiative! We love knowing that individuals feel safe and comfortable to now speak out rather than hiding their struggles away. This is an initiative that is near and dear to our hearts, and, because of that, we are proud to support #BellLetsTalk today, tomorrow, and every day.