#Bell Let’s Talk Day ranks #1 worldwide on Twitter, raising more than CA $6.1 million for Canadian mental health services and helping to reduce stigma.
One country. One day. One cause. Many Channels.
When a country unites to raise awareness about a cause, great things can happen.
When industry, government, academia, and sport and media icons pitch-in in one well-coordinated effort, record-breaking things can happen. Stigmatized illnesses can trend on Twitter. Millions of dollars can be raised.
#Bell Let’s Talk Day, held annually on January 28, is a campaign to promote mental health and eradicate stigma related to mental illness. Each year, Bell Canada donates CA $0.05 per telephone call or text message to support mental health research, policies, and facilities in Canada.
Lately, Bell has upped the ante by extending its $0.05 pledge to include tweets and shares on social media. On January 28, for every phone call made and text message transmitted, as well as every tweet or social share about mental illness in Canada, Bell donates $0.05.
Messages of Mental Illness Trend on Twitter
The hashtag, #Bell Let’s Talk, was the #1 trend on Twitter both in Canada and worldwide with 4,775,708 tweets, up 58.3% from 2014.
"As the top Twitter trend on the planet, with messages of support and hope from people around the globe, and the endorsement of international leaders and celebrities,” according to George Cope, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Canada, “this year's Bell Let's Talk Day really showed that there is universal desire for action in mental health.”
All the buzz on social media, combined with the usual telephone and text message traffic, added up to 122,150,772 communications. As a direct result of this traffic, Bell Canada has committed an additional $6,107,538.60 for Canadian mental health programs.
An Every-Media Campaign
Bell’s mental health campaign used every type of media: from newer social media (i.e., Twitter and Facebook), text messages, blogs and video testimonials, to more conventional media such as radio and television, school assemblies, billboards, and flyers.
Bell Media marked Bell Let's Talk Day with more than 50 hours of special mental health-themed programming aired across its properties, including CTV, CTV Two, BNN, CP24, CTV News Channel, Discovery, E!, M3, Much, MTV, RDS, Space, TSN, CraveTV, and TheLoop.ca, as well as Bell Media digital, radio, and local TV platforms throughout the day.
More than 50 businesses, organizations, and sports teams helped spread the anti-stigma message. Clara Hughes, six-time Olympic medalist for Team Canada, is one of the prominent Canadian heroes featured in the #Bell Let’s Talk campaign. Ms. Hughes has battled depression herself, and last week’s campaign corresponded with the premiere of a documentary, Clara’s Big Ride, chronicling her 110-day bicycle ride across Canada to raise awareness.
Mental Illness in Canada
Each year, 1 in 5 Canadians is affected by mood disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, attention deficit/hyperactive disorders (ADHD), conduct disorders, oppositional defiant disorders (ODD), substance use disorders or dementia. Statistics indicate that only one-third of those Canadians who need mental health treatment will seek it, due at least in part to the stigma that exists around mental illness.
“If you were diagnosed with a serious physical illness, you’d expect and almost certainly get emotional and social support from people around you – not the silence, gossip, jokes or discrimination often faced by people with a mental illness,”
says Dr. Stuart, an internationally renowned professor of community health and epidemiology and Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at Queen’s University in Ontario.
“That stigma is the reality for many Canadians who struggle, but we can all help provide necessary support to family, friends and colleagues by keeping a few straightforward approaches in mind.”
Dr. Stuart’s research informs Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign by giving Canadians 5 ways to help those with mental illness. Bell’s Let’s Talk encourages people to:
- pay attention to the words they use;
- learn and understand the signs of mental illness;
- be kind to one another;
- listen to people’s stories and ask how they can help; and
- start conversations about mental illness.
“When it comes to stigma reduction,” Dr. Stuart comments, “[o]ne size does not fit all.”
#Bell’s Let’s Talk Day recognizes that, and reaches people through a variety of media, likely more than once during the day, with its conversation-starting messages.