It’s that time of year; time to talk about mental health.  Once again, Saskatoon Health Region is joining forces with CTV Saskatoon to help promote Bell Let’s Talk day on January 28.

Bell Let’s Talk is a multi-year charitable program dedicated to mental health. Saskatoon Health Region is partnering with CTV in Saskatoon for the second year in a row to provide information about mental health and addictions services offered in the region through features and live interviews on CTV Saskatoon Morning Live, CTV Saskatoon News at Noon, and CTV Saskatoon News at Six between January 26 and 28.

RR-2015-01-21-Bell-Logo“We’ve pulled together some interesting issues and programs to profile,” stated Tracy Muggli, Saskatoon Health Region’s director of mental health and addictions services.

“Bell Let’s Talk really provides us with an excellent opportunity to draw attention to mental health and help decrease the stigma so people feel more comfortable reaching out for services,” she said. “It also gives us a chance to let more people know what services we have available for those needing some help, like our new online therapy program.”

That online therapy program is just one Region service that will be profiled next week. Others include the new peer support program the Region is developing, recreational therapy and its importance for youth, the signs and symptoms of when you might be experiencing mental health issues, and how to access services through the Region’s Centralized Intake Services.

Over the past number of years, Bell has committed over $67.5 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations across Canada. In 2015, the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund will provide grants in the range of $5,000 to $50,000 to organizations in Canada focused on improving access to programs and services that support and help improve the mental health and wellbeing of people living with mental health issues.

It’s an important campaign, Muggli believes, for bringing awareness to mental health, especially as it involves high profile spokespeople like Clara Hughes.

“That helps other people with mental health challenges to come forward and seek help,” Muggli said.

The conversation about mental health and available services has definitely grown across the country since the first Bell Let’s Talk Day was held in 2011, noted Mary Deacon, chair of the Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health Initiative.

“One of the most exciting things about the 2015 event is the way the community has become engaged,” she said.   “Schools, workplaces, hospitals, mental health organizations right across the country are taking advantage of the profile and focus this event puts on mental health to amplify the conversation.”

Profiling the services available through Saskatoon Health Region will help the people of Saskatoon, Deacon feels.

“One of the biggest challenges for Canadians is even knowing how to access support services. By shedding light on the available programs and services available through Saskatoon Health Region, you will be helping the citizens of Saskatoon have a better understanding of where to go to get help,” she said.

For Deacon, the real success of Bell Let’s Talk will be when mental health becomes an acceptable part of daily social discussion, and becomes greater political priority – that’s when even more will happen to increase mental health services across the country.

Bell is continuing to donate funds to mental health services this year. On January 28, for every text message sent, wireless call and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers, and every time someone joins the campaign on Facebook or Twitter, Bell will contribute five cents more to programs dedicated to mental health.

It’s Bell making these contributions, Deacon stressed – so just by joining the conversation, people can raise money for mental health services and it won’t cost them a thing.

Last year, 109 million calls, texts, Tweets and Facebook shares were made over the course of the day. In 2009, 66 million were made – that’s huge growth.  This resulted in an additional $5.4 million in Bell’s donation to mental health services.

The funds Bell has invested in mental health programs across the country align with the four pillars to the Let’s Talk campaign: antistigma, better access and better care, workplace health, and supporting best-in-class.RR-2015-01-21-Bell-poster

Antistigma:  One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma. It is the number one reason why two-thirds of those living with a mental illness do not seek help.

On  January 28, Bell will once again encourage Canadians to be part of this important national conversation to fight the stigma surrounding mental health and raise awareness about mental health issues across Canada.

Better access and better care: Only one-third of those who need mental health-related services in Canada will receive treatment, often due to the stigma associated with mental illness or because they simply do not have access to programs in their community.

Bell supports a variety of organizations including grassroots agencies, local hospitals, and universities to help provide Canadians with support services when and where they need it. Bell is proud to support and partner with leading health care institutions across the country.

Workplace health: Mental health is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and represents 15 per cent of Canada’s burden of disease. As a leading employer, Bell is committed to leading by example in our own workplace and is an early adopter of the voluntary Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Bell is also working with corporate Canada and the health care community to develop and adopt mental health best practices in the workplace. The first of its kind in the world, the standard offers guidance to Canadian businesses and other organizations in addressing mental health and mental illness in the workplace.

Supporting best-in-class: Mental illness represents 15 per cent of the burden of disease in Canada and is the leading cause of disability in Canada, accounting for 30 per cent of disability claims and representing 70% of the total costs. Yet only 5.5 per cent of our healthcare dollars in Canada are dedicated to mental illness.

Without adequate funding, the groundbreaking research that is needed to find cures and explore treatment options won’t happen. Bell is supporting research into understanding and treatment with investments in best-in-class research programs at hospitals, universities, and other institutions across Canada. Bell is also supporting the best researchers with funding of new chairs, fellowships, and project grants.