Bella & Heidi: Speaking Out Against Stigma

January 28th marked the fourth annual Bell Let’s Talk Day. Let’s Talk is a daylong social media event to raise awareness for mental illness across the country.

All day, Bell Mobility donated five cents for every Canadian who tweeted, “#BellLetsTalk,” for every Facebook share and for every text message and long distance call made or received by a Bell customer.

St. Thomas University students saw this as an opportunity to make a big difference.

Bella Grady–Melanson, a first year student at STU, was one of many STUdents who took part in this initiative. She first heard about Let’s Talk Day in high school. After a text message reminder from Bell this year, she went all out!

“I made sure that I reposted every Facebook status, photo and fact, and I retweeted so many tweets.”

Her efforts didn’t stop there – she also sent out more than 1800 text messages, raising around 90 dollars herself.

Bella wasn’t alone in her mental health crusade. Heidi Sherrard, first year Sociology major, also did her part in raising funds.

“I sent over a 1000 text messages to my friend and I sent out a lot of Twitter messages. One of my tweets was retweeted over 60 times,” says Heidi.

One in five Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. Despite this, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues.

“Events like this makes people more comfortable to tell someone or get help,” Heidi says.

This year’s Let’s Talk Day has raised $5,472,588 with the help of Canadians like Bella and Heidi. Bell has committed 62.5 million dollars towards mental health awareness since 2010.

“This event affects me so positively. It gives me strength and let’s me know there are people out there who are as passionate about it as I am. I love the atmosphere when there are events like this. Everyone is so open and caring,” says Bella.

St. Thomas University helped out with spreading the word of this event with flyers and a mental health awareness Facebook group. However, most students are still unaware of what STU can do everyday to help those struggling with mental illnesses.

“STU has a great community of people to help with mental illnesses, but they’re not very known about. I have friends who are paying to go to counselors because they don’t know about Roxann [a counselor at STU],” says Bella.

To learn more about Bell Let’s Talk Day, visit LetsTalkBell.ca.