It's Let's Talk Day in Canada. This is one day each year that Bell encourages Canadians to talk about mental health. It's a fabulous thing and it's also ridiculous. Let me explain...
This year I have seen discussion and debate on social media about the fact that a large corporation such as Bell is potentially gaining from hosting what some view as basically a publicity campaign. There is conversation around the fact that their intentions are not completely altruistic. OK. Yes, Bell may be gaining goodwill and all that that may encompass through this campaign but here's the thing: nobody else is encouraging conversation about this life and death topic on the scale that Bell is. And let's be clear about one thing - we are literally speaking about a life and death issue. People die from mental illness.
I am quite fine with the fact that Bell is going to receive some 'good energy' from this. Frankly, I think they deserve a pat on the back. The fact that Canadians are showing up in the thousands on Twitter and Facebook, having conversations around the water cooler at work and talking with their kids at home over the dinner table about mental health is a good thing. Period. You cannot convince me otherwise.
Here's how this day is also just ridiculous: we shouldn't need a designated day, a splashy campaign, or encouragement from celebrities and sports heroes in order to talk about mental health. It should not be heralded as brave for a person to say out loud that they have depression, an eating disorder or addiction. As Howie Mandel says in one of the Bell Let's Talk promos, a person should be able to say, "I need to leave early today for my psychologist's appointment" just as we would when we need to go to the dentist. It's ridiculous.
And that, folks, is why I welcome any opportunity that encourages Canadians to question their beliefs about mental health, to engage in dialogue, and to set aside the fear attached to admitting to having a mental illness. Until the time that we no longer require a special day, and I truly hope that comes sooner rather than later, let's talk.
Who will join me in this conversation today, tomorrow and beyond?