Yes, #letstalk… But We Can’t Stop There.
It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day!
Since this campaign began in 2010 Bell has donated more than $100 million to mental health programs across the country. The initiative has inspired countless Canadians to open up and start conversations about mental health. How awesome is that? Talking about mental health can feel uncomfortable and awkward at first, so speaking openly about it is a great first step. Once we’ve arrived at a place where it feels safe to talk about it though… what’s next? To make real change we need to do more than just change our attitudes and beliefs about mental health. I want to suggest we up the ante this year. Let’s do something beyond talking and take real action.
If you’re struggling with your mental health…
Maybe you’ve considered reaching out for help but haven't found the right moment. Maybe you want help but you’re not sure where to turn. Make today the day you reach out for support. If you have access to an EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program) through your workplace, go online or call the 1-800 number to find out what’s available for mental health services. A manager, HR professional or co-worker can help you take this step. Accessing services through your EFAP is totally confidential and it’s not information your employer will ever have access to. Outside of the workplace you can talk to your family doctor, nurse practitioner or visit outpatient services at your local hospital or community clinic. Look up your area’s Community Mental Health Centre, which provides specialized mental health services such as counselling that are covered under Medicare. Dialing 8-1-1 will connect you to a Registered Nurse, 24/7. E-Mental Health is a great online resource that can help you locate help in your area. Check it out HERE.
If you’ve noticed a friend, family member or co-worker seems out of sorts…
It’s easy to talk yourself out of starting a conversation about what you think might be related to a mental health concern. Because of our own discomfort we might assume that the signs we’re noticing in a person are probably nothing, or that if the person wanted help they’d reach out. If starting the conversation feels uncomfortable to you, imagine how intimidating and overwhelming it likely feels to someone who’s in the midst of that struggle. When it comes to mental health, don’t make assumptions. Take one thing off the person’s plate by being the one to make that first step. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers; you just have to listen. Steer them toward your workplace’s Employee Assistance Program, their primary health care practitioner or a community agency who can support them in taking the next steps. If you’re supporting a young person (age 5-20), Kids Help Phone is a great resource to suggest. They can access it by calling 1-800-668-6868 or texting 686868.
If you have an idea that could make a positive change in your workplace or community…
Have you sitting on an idea for what you think might make an awesome workplace or community event to raise awareness and support for mental health? Now's the time to do it! Get the ball rolling by sharing your idea with someone else – perhaps your manager, a friend or someone affiliated with a community organization who might be able to support your initiative. This year Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign has made a fantastic downloadable toolkit available, along with other materials you can use to inspire conversations about mental health and bring your idea to fruition. Be sure to check it out HERE. If you’ve considered bringing in mental health training to educate your staff on supporting a co-worker who’s struggling, caring for their own wellbeing and understanding rights and responsibilities related to mental health in the workplace, let us know.
Not so long ago, we as a society largely turned a blind eye to the topic of mental health, viewing it as inappropriate to address in the workplace or in social contexts. We’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time… so let’s capitalize on this momentum! Mental health should be a year-round conversation, and the time has come to move from talking to taking action.
Elizabeth Eldridge is a Psychological Health & Safety Consultant based in southern New Brunswick, Canada. In addition to frequent keynote speaking and corporate training on mental health she is the owner/operator of Arpeggio Health Services, Atlantic Canada’s largest provider of public mental health trainings. Learn more at elizabetheldridge.com, summitcorporatewellness.com and arpeggiohealthservices.com.