This coming Thursday, Jan. 28, is Bell Let’s Talk Day, and conversations about mental health would serve many of us well as the pandemic persists. (Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection)

Editorial: Let’s talk about our mental health in a pandemic

Bell Let's Talk Day is Thursday, Jan. 28

We’ve known for a long time that it’s almost always better to talk about mental health than to keep quiet about it.

We should continually be looking for ways to have conversations about how we are doing, how we are feeling, and ask those questions of those we care about. This Thursday, Jan. 28, Bell Let’s Talk Day will again serve as a conversation starter, as the telecommunications giant will try to foster dialogue and then back up its good intentions by writing a big cheque.

The ‘let’s talk’ message is easy to hashtag, but it’s also a worthy one and it has resonated with a lot of people over the years. Bell says that a Nielsen survey two years ago suggested the percentage of Canadians who are comfortable speaking with others about mental health doubled from 42 per cent in 2012 to 84 per cent in 2019. We do believe that efforts to reduce stigma have been effective. More people struggling with their mental health have been empowered to address their personal challenges and have had the courage to turn them into talking points to try to help others. A lot of us are getting better at choosing our words.

If we’re looking for our own conversation starter this week, we don’t have to look far. The COVID-19 pandemic, from the start, has been harmful to the mental health of many, from those on the front lines of the health-care emergency to those who are isolated away from the front lines. Mental health and wellness supports in all forms are harder to access. Most of us are not only facing stress, but facing different, unfamiliar kinds of stress. Those who are responding more strongly to the crisis and its stressors are the ones we need to talk to, this week or any week. It might take speaking up, asking questions, listening and comprehending. Helping won’t always be easy, but we can try, and we can make ourselves aware of resources that are out there.

Bell recommends the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian Coalition for Seniors’ Mental Health, Kids Help Phone and the Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre. For more links, visit http://letstalk.bell.ca. If you are in crisis on Vancouver Island, call 1-888-494-3888.

Even masked and quarantined, it’s important to talk about mental health with those we care about. It’s better still if we can find the right thing to say. Let’s try; let’s talk.

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