Our local chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association – Champlain East – is busy preparing for their virtual event, MenTALK, taking place on Zoom January 24, 2023, from 6:30 to 8:00pm, one day before Bell Let’s Talk Day on the 25th.
Since 2011, Bell Let’s Talk Day has donated $139,588,747.75 to Canadian mental health initiatives and encouraged Canadians to ‘take meaningful action to create positive change’.
“1 in 2 people struggling with their mental health aren’t getting the help they need. 1 in 4 Canadians have been experiencing high levels of anxiety. More than 200 Canadians will attempt suicide every day; twelve will die. The number of opioid overdose deaths in Canada went up more than 90% during the pandemic. It’s now 20 per day.”
These are just a few statistics on the Bell Let’s Talk website, provided by Mental Health Research Canada.
In 2020, CMHA Champlain East received $20,000 from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund and launched two free programs with those funds: Living Life to the Full and Mood Walks. CMHA has run over a dozen Living Life to the Full psychoeducation programs so far, each taking place over the course of 8 weeks.
Each year, CMHA Champlain East hosts an event for Bell Let’s Talk Day. This year’s virtual event is hosted in partnership with the Cornwall Public Library. Five male guests will share a little bit about their mental health journeys to reduce stigma and get the conversation going about men’s mental health.
“We want people to hear the story of these courageous men sharing what mental health is really like in their experience. How to look for the signs and how to approach and how to open the conversation,” explained CMHA’s Angele D’Alessio, “We definitely want not just men, but anyone to attend. We want anyone supporting men, living with men, colleagues, best friends, anybody.”
The evening’s panel will consist of co-founders of our local MenTALK support group, Stephen Douris and Ivan Labelle, along with Tom Hickey and Mitchel Roy, all of whom volunteer with our local CMHA. The discussion will be moderated by CMHA’s Manager of Mental Health Promotion, Jason Pollick, with CMHA members in the background checking for questions and sharing resources.
“We know there has been an increase in the need for services since the pandemic. The more we talk about the demand, that there’s a need for this, hopefully the people that need to hear it and provide the supports and the funding will make it a priority,” said D’Alessio.
In previous years Bell donated 5 cents for every use of the phrase ‘Bell Let’s Talk’ on social media and every call or text made on that day. This year the company chose to donate $10 million to the cause instead. This is more than they have donated in a single year since the start of Bell Let’s Talk (in 2022 they donated 8.2 million). The hope is that by taking the focus off social media, people will take more positive action IRL.
As for why CMHA is choosing to focus on men specifically for their discussion:
“Every day in Canada, 200 Canadians will attempt suicide and a large proportion of the people who end their life by suicide are men. In fact, 75% are men. Men generally don’t easily share their feelings. There are still a lot of stigmas around masculinity and being vulnerable. And that’s why this conversation is important because we want to reduce those rates of suicide and we want to encourage men to talk. Join a support group, reach out for those supports… hopefully they will be encouraged by hearing these testimonies,” D’Alessio explained.
“Often, we hear feedback, well its just one day a year. There’s a big promotional day once a year but the idea is to keep the conversation going each and every day. In your personal life, at work. When we go out and promote mental health as an agency, we share that that this is a conversation you want to have as often as you can,” she added.
Or contact Angele D’Alessio 613-551-9253