Campaign to get people talking about mental health? Some say great, some say not enough

By Jesse Macmillan

Jan. 27, 2017

Cory Buote thinks a national campaign encouraging people to talk about mental health is a great idea.

But Caitlin Flynn and Cassie Chan think it’s not enough.

The Bell Let’s Talk campaign, on Jan. 25, is an annual event organized by Bell to raise awareness about mental health.

Buote is a Grade 12 student at Colonel Gray High School. He has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder.

Bell Let’s Talk is a good opportunity to talk about his personal difficulties with mental illness, he said.

“It sounds kind of silly, but I actually look forward to this day.”

Buote has shared some things about his anxiety with his friends, but has not told anyone about his PTSD.

“A lot of people think it’s only something for soldiers or people who have gone through major traumatic events.”

Buote said Bell Let’s Talk does a good job of combating that stigma and giving everyone a platform to speak about their own struggles when they would normally be nervous speaking about it.

Flynn is a science student at UPEI.

Bell Let’s Talk can be helpful but it isn’t enough to help mental health, she said.

“Everyone wants to help on that day, but nobody wants to help afterwards.”

Flynn used to enjoy Bell Let’s Talk, but in the past year her views have started to change.

“It seems like people don’t talk mental illness seriously.”

Flynn has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

Ten months ago, she went vegan and noticed it helped her mental health. It has given her more energy to exercise and practice self care, and her depression has gone down a whole lot, she said.

“It’s like a domino effect.”

Since everyone has their own individual needs, there is no one-size-fits-all fix for mental illness, but it is important to reach out to someone, said Flynn.

“Talk to the people you trust. I don’t think there’s as much stigma as people think there is.”

Chan is a student at Ryerson University in Toronto.

“Bell Let’s Talk is literally the corporate embodiment of performative allyship.”

Bell’s only doing it to look good. While awareness is good, Bell Let’s Talk fails to discuss the relationship between mental health and other identities like race, gender identity and sexuality, she said.

“All I hear is crickets chirping.”

The conversation about mental health should be inclusive and not stop after one day, said Chan.

“Your activism cannot be selective.”

Chan, who has been diagnosed with depression, is terrified to discuss her mental illness with her parents because of their Chinese culture.

“My parents still don’t believe that my mental illness is real and they just think I need to achieve more.”

Chan would like to see any money raised go to small non-profit organizations who need it.

She would also like more institutions to work with people with mental illnesses to do things that would benefit them and make mental health services more accessible to indigenous and black people of colour (IBPOC), the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, and lower-income communities.