February 12th is Bell-Globe Media’s “Let’s Talk Day.” It’s an initiative to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. To start a conversation so we can all realize that we’re not alone. On February 12, Bell donates 5¢ more to mental health initiatives across Canada for every: Text message sent, Long distance call made, Tweet using #BellLetsTalk, Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk image.
1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental illness at some point in their lives.
Did you know that?
1 in 5.
That means 1 in 5 people are struggling or have struggled, and because there is this ridiculous stigma, it’s very likely that at some point they had or are having a hard time telling anyone. Or maybe, they might be okay with talking about it but because we don’t – they don’t have the words to describe what’s going on.
Not good. And not fair. To anyone.
1 in 5 is a lot of people, and it means that you know someone that is experiencing a mental illness. That’s a Ginger and Giant guarantee right there.
So, what can we do? A few things.
- When you recognize that someone you know is acting a bit off – maybe a change in mood, or diet, or temperament – take notice and check in with them.
- If you are experiencing a change in mood, or diet or temperament – not feeling like yourself, feeling down or disinterested in things or people you used to love – check in with someone. It doesn’t have to be someone you usually confide in if you’re not comfortable. It could be a doctor – a doctor would be a great, a teacher or of course a member of your family or a friend.
- If someone chooses you to talk to about what they’re struggling with – listen to them. I know, it seems obvious, but you might be having a bad day, or you might have a sick baby at home or you might be stressed about something at work – and you might not truly be listening, or you might think the person is exaggerating, or being “dramatic.” They’re not. Please, please, please take them seriously. It doesn’t mean you have to own their happiness, or their health, but please listen, and do what you can to connect the person with an appropriate support – like a doctor.
- And last but not least – you can support organizations that support those experiencing mental illness.
Tonight, there is a documentary being aired on TSN that tells the story of a family who lost their 17-year-old son to suicide. James was my friend, and the day I found out we lost him is one I will never forget. But I am not his sibling, and I am not his parent – and I cannot even pretend to know what that would feel like. Despite how hard it is, James’ family has found a way to celebrate James’ life each year on his birthday. They have made it their mission to not only celebrate him, but to fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness and they’ve done it through sport. Together with their friends and family they have raised close to $300,000 through 13 years of golf tournaments. They have created the James Peek Memorial Outpatient Services at our local hospital, and supported programs in high schools to encourage young people to talk about the challenges they might be facing.
So tonight, after you watch Ted recount some shenanigans that he and his friends got up to before he met his kids’ mother – turn your TV to TSN and check out this documentary – (that’s at 8:30 est for those that may not be How I Met Your Mother fans). I haven’t seen it – but I know the impact this family has had on their community and so I have no doubt that, Talk to Me: The Story of James Patrick Peek is going to be an important and valuable contribution to Let’s Talk Day, and to fighting the battle of stigma.
Then tomorrow, share your thoughts on the film and use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk and by doing so you’ll have taken a step toward ending the stigma of mental illness. And FAR more than 1 in 5 Canadians will be grateful that you did.
If you can’t catch it tonight – the documentary will be rerun on Tuesday February 12 at 4:30 on TSN and 9:30 on TSN2. It has also been picked up by CTV an will air at 1:00pm as part of their Let’s Talk programming and 8:00 on CTV2. Rumour has it, CTV doesn’t often pick programming up from TSN which is indicative of how powerful the film will be.