BellLetsTalk day, a day where we as a collective come together online to talk about something that, although is becoming more common, is still very taboo; mental health. January 30th 2019 is BellLetsTalk day, we know that we can expect a lot of hashtags, a lot of personal stories, and a lot of people coming forward with their most vulnerable feelings.
It is days like this that give space to the ones who are most unheard, it gives space to those who want to take a stand, and it gives space to those who want to work toward reducing stigma. But there’s one thing to remember; BellLetsTalk is just one day. Albeit, a very important day nonetheless, we have to remember that there are still 364 other days a year to keep the conversation going and work towards taking action. Bell has done an amazing job at starting the conversation, they’ve created a movement–but it’s up to us as a community to continue on that movement. Talking about mental health is scary, there’s immense stigma attached to what it means to be mentally ill, a lot of ignorance and hate and misconceptions, but how do you ensure that we don’t allow ignorance to continue? You keep talking, you take action, and you don’t stop at just one day.
BellLetsTalk day opens up the conversation, but the real question is what happens afterward? Where do we go? What do we do? Sometimes these can be daunting questions, it may seem impossible to really move forward and drive change in your community. You can start by reaching out to your local mental health agency, see if there are any volunteer positions, ask if there are any forums or conferences that are taking community voice. Reach out to your local MPP to talk about what kind of initiatives are happening in your city, or just to talk about what their plan is for your city and mental health as a whole. Don’t have time to do those things, or feeling scared of those steps? Try starting with smaller things such as reaching out to friends, family, or coworkers. Let people know that it’s okay to talk about their struggles, don’t be afraid to start the conversation—don’t let stigma win. We all, as a collective, want to abolish stigma. We all as a collective want to create space and live in communities where it’s okay to talk about the hard stuff.
BellLetsTalk day is an amazing start, but it doesn’t end here.