Today is Bell Let’s Talk day – a day where mental health takes centre stage on Canadian social media. I’m not normally a huge fan of corporate sponsorship, but this case is a little different. Bell media has huge reach in this country – they own and operate 34 specialty channels, 2 conventional networks, 4 pay TV services, 106 radio stations, 30 apps, and more than 200 websites. That equates to a staggering reach, which can help promote this vital message. So I’m willing to put my dislike of corporations jumping on charitable causes in order to get exposure on hold today. Bell funds a number of really important initiatives with money raised by people using the #BellLetsTalk hashtag on social media and through sending texts on the Bell Mobile network. Funding for mental health is sorely lacking in this country so anything that helps increase services is okay in my books.
Almost two years ago, my mother passed away very suddenly. I will never forget the moment I found out, the pain in my father’s voice, or the task of calling my grandmother to inform her. I had some amazing friends who stepped in to help, but that didn’t stop grief from enveloping me. The program I was in at the time was not what you would call supportive of the grieving process. They grudgingly gave me a week off but after that it was full steam ahead, and keeping busy is one thing but trying to juggle a tough academic curriculum while your brain is hazy from grief is almost impossible. I was made to feel abnormal for taking “too long” to mourn, which helped send me down the rabbit hole of depression (again). Post-secondary institutions talk a good game but when it comes down to it, their mental health programs aren’t exactly stellar and even in a program that talks a LOT about mental health there were faculty members who openly suggested that maybe it wasn’t grief or depression, maybe I just couldn’t hack it.