“Mental toughness and mental illness have absolutely nothing to do with each other.” – Mike Babcock
Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day, the day of the year I hold closest to my heart.
Since it started in 2011, we’ve seen the number of total interactions on this day (texts, calls, tweets, Facebook posts, etc.) rise from 66,079,236 all the way to 125,915,295 last year. Over $6 million in community fund grants alone have been raised and 344 individual organizations have been supported.
So much support has been given since 2011. We’ve seen an absolutely massive shift regarding the views and stigma surrounding mental health. We’ve seen organizations focused on not only research, but the care and treatment of mental health patients sprout out of nothing. We’ve seen workplaces change the way they handle mental health, many adopting the voluntary Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
Hundreds of athletes, media personalities, and celebrities have signed on and pledged their allegiance to this cause. Some, like star Olympian Clara Hughes, comedian/entertainer Howie Mandel, TSN and #SickNotWeak’s Michael Landsberg and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock have even become official spokespeople or ambassadors.
It’s beyond amazing to see how far this initiative has come. It’s incredible to think that not even 7 years ago I was losing my battle with mental illness, had never felt more hopeless, had accepted what felt like inevitable death, and truly thought I was completely alone in my fight. It’s astounding to think of the impact that Bell Let’s Talk Day has had, not only on my life and those around me, but on the lives of countless others around Canada and the rest of the world.
It’s awesome to see what can happen when people rally together, but one thing is still for sure…
We can do better.
I want to see the numbers grow. I want to see the number of total interactions rise from 125,915,295 this year. I want to see the number of dollars raised pass the $6 million or so raised last year. Perhaps most importantly, I want to see the chatter continue and the stigma surrounding mental health continue to evaporate before our eyes.
I’ve focused on depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia, numerous other mental illnesses, and generalized mental illness in previous years. This year, being my 6th year campaigning for Bell Lets Talk, and my 2nd year with the #SickNotWeak initiative, I want to focus in on one particular manifestation of mental illness that’s particularly dear to my heart.
This year I want to focus on a mental illness that many still struggle to classify as a mental health issue. I want to focus on addiction and substance abuse.
Anyone that has me on any social media platform should expect a constant barrage of tweets, retweets and posts regarding the #BellLetsTalk campaign tomorrow, addiction and substance abuse being my main topic of conversation, but not limited to just that.
With that, I challenge those that read this to do their best to participate in the campaign as well, in whatever way they can.
Let’s keep fighting mental illness, together. We may just end up saving some lives along the way.