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Time to talk about mental health

January 25 has been designated as a day to break the shackles on mental health, let those who battle mental illnesses know that they need not suffer alone, and erase the taboos surrounding mental health, all goals for the seventh annual Bell Let’s Talk Day.

To accomplish the mission, all Canadians are encouraged to get on social media and talk about mental health, what it is, how to get help and how to erase the taboos surrounding it.

Every time someone joins the conversation on social media, Bell has pledged to donate five cents to mental health initiatives.

Over the years, there have been a total 597,360,644 interactions with 2016 witnessing the largest total: 125,915,295.

Bell’s donation towards mental health funds, including an original $50 million anchor donation, has reached $79,919,178.55 with the aim of reaching $100 million by the end of 2020.

Bell’s Lets Talk Day is much more than just a social media campaign. The initiative offers resources and information about mental health and encourages people to remove the stigma through education, being mindful of language, being kind, listening and asking and most importantly, talking about it.

Funds raised by the initiative go to a number of institutions and community support systems around the country including military family support. One million dollars in grants have been donated to military family support.

The Bell Let’s Talk Day and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)/ Department of National Defence (DND) have a longstanding relationship.

This year, Bell has welcomed CAF veteran Bruno Guévremont as part of its Bell Let’s Talk ambassador team. Guévremont, a Royal Canadian Navy veteran and Team Canada captain at the 2016 Invictus Games, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after serving two tours in Afghanistan.

Additionally, as part of this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, the CAF/DND is hosting a panel discussion on mental health aimed at reducing mental health stigmas within the military community.

Panelists include Mary Walsh, Bell spokesperson; Chief Warrant Officer Kevin West, Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer; Colonel Rakesh Jetly, Mental Health Advisor, Canadian Forces Health Services; Lieutenant-Commander Lyn Kingsley, Senior Social Worker, Canadian Forces Health Services; and Gilles Moreau, Director General Workplace Management, ADM(HR-Civ).

Also attending this year’s panel are Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston.

“I have had a lifelong belief that physical and mental health are vital requirements for a society to prosper,” said Mrs. Johnston in a statement. “As such, I have put my support and position behind mental health issues during what will be a seven-year mandate.”

The panel will be moderated by CTV News Anchor Graham Richardson and CAF member Lieutenant (Navy) Julie McDonald.

The panel discussion will be held at the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, ON. at 1 p.m.

Follow the DND/CAF on Twitter, Periscope or Facebook for live streaming of the event.

Join the conversation and help to donate five cents by:
- Twitter: Every Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
- Facebook: Every view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video at Facebook.com/BellLetsTalk
- Instagram: Every post using #BellLetsTalk
- Snapchat: Every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Snapchat geofilter

If you are a military member seeking assistance for a mental health concern, you can visit a social worker at any CFHS Centre. Family members can reach out to social workers at the local Military Family Resource Centre. Canadian Forces Military Assistance Program (CFMAP: 1-800-268-7708) or call the Family Information Line at 1-800-866-4546.

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