I know it’s late in the day to be posting about #BellLetsTalk day but I still wanted to write about it, and why I think it’s a great thing.

For those unfamiliar with #BellLetsTalk Day, one of Canada’s large telco company’s sponsors this day every year. This is it’s 4th year and although it’s not done yet, it has been more successful than any other #BellLetsTalk Day. For every call or text on their network today, or tweet with that hashtag or share of their picture on facebook, they donate 5 cents to mental health initiatives in Canada. At last count around 8:30pm, it was over $4.5m.

So why do I think this is so important? And why am I writing about it? I think I should preface this with, I don’t actually own any of their products (for a variety of reasons, none really bad) but they do own TV stations and a lot of other products in Canada so they are all around us.. I’ve seen a lot of people saying that it’s just marketing and that we shouldn’t be promoting the hashtag because it is just advertising for the company. Although this is a form of sponsorship, it’s still $4.5m to mental health initiatives, something that affects us all. I also think that it important for any company, big or small to show that they care about their community. Corporate social responsibility should be one of the number one priorities for any company so if Bell is able to do it on such a large scale, good for them. I hope other large Canadian companies follow.

I think this initiative by Bell is also about more than money. It is about starting conversation. Their spokesperson, olympic medalist, Clara Hughes has embraced being the face of mental health, opening up about her own struggles with depression. She has been on television all day and in commercials for the past few weeks promoting this campaign. It is showing people that it affects everyone and it is something we all need to be paying attention to. The day also had the conversations about mental health taking place in schools today, which is very important. It is important that young people know they are not alone and know that there are people that care and people that can help them. The statistics around mental health are alarming and hopefully days like this start to change the stigma. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people in Canada suffer from some form of mental illness at some point in their lives and that thousands of people miss work every because of it. This is important for our well-being, our economy and our society. One example I’ve seen all day (and a lot recently) is that we need to treat people with mental illness as if they have an illness like any other ailment. It would stop the “snap out of it” mentality and hopefully get the person the help they need.

I’m also very excited that many celebrities outside of Canada have taking interest in this campaign by sharing it with their followers. I’ve seen tweets from Matthew Good (he changed his twitter bio for the day) and from Bif Naked. I’m sure there have been others. Ellen DeGeneres had one tweet that was retweeted over 25,000 times, which is over $1200 from her tweet alone. That is amazing. It also shows that celebrities care about mental health which will hopefully eliminate the stigma around it.

There is still about 2 hours left, if you follow either of my twitter accounts, I apologize for filling your feed (but I’m likely not the only one). If we are at $4.5m, that means that there was over 90 million calls, texts and social media shares today. That means that we care about mental illness and want people to feel comfortable enough to get help. Although this is a corporate begun initiative, it doesn’t mean it needs to stop there. It is about having the conversations. And really, if it helps or saves just one person, isn’t it all worth it? I’d like to think so.

For more information on #BellLetsTalk Day, their initiatives or resources about mental health (based in Canada), visit their website.

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