Bell Let’s Talk Day means something different to everyone. For some, it is an initiative that helps raise money for resources in communities in Canada. For others, it is simply an initiative that helps erase the stigma to talk about their mental health. On the other hand, it can also be a day where some folks need to put their phones away, as it can be overwhelming to see others make posts and stories all day about their personal experience.
Bell Let’s Talk originally started in September 2010 to create a conversation about Canada’s mental health. At this time, talking about mental health struggles was still extremely stigmatized, and not many were talking about it. As the initiative grew, so did the realization that this topic needs more awareness. Belk Let’s Talk puts the money raised from text and social media interactions into mental health organizations and institutions all across Canada. In fact, the Bell Let’s Talk fund helped open a walk-in mental health clinic for children in Peterborough this year. “Talk Now” is open on Tuesdays from 2 to 6 p.m., located in the offices of Peterborough Youth Services (PYS) counselling centre at 459 Reid street. This year, Trent Active Minds (TAM) ran an event called Let’s Talk Together on January 29, which was held in the Ceilie at the Trent University Symons campus from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The goal for this event was to facilitate a casual, face to face conversation about mental health. This event was held before Bell Let’s Talk existed, under a different name than “Let’s Talk Together” when Active Minds started in 2008.
“The idea behind it originally was to bring together students, professors, and faculty all together to talk about their mental health. It had some success but wasn’t run annually, as members of the team changed over the years. The last time we hosted it, we had maybe 15 students and three professors in the Seasoned Spoon,” says Dan Morris, the community coordinator and former president, before the current president Sarah Stooke. Although originally titled “Overflow,” the dinner has since been reinvented and renamed “Let’s Talk Together” to remind people what Bell Let’s Talk was originally created for: open conversation and ending stigma. The event featured free food catered from the Ceilie, games, and a raffle with prizes such as gift cards, self-care products, and resources. The event had an amazing turnout, with every table and chair filled. Trent Active Minds will definitely try to keep this event running in the future.
Much of the negative feedback surrounding Bell Let’s Talk Day is that people feel inclined to only talk about mental health on the day itself, and the conversation is not carried on to the next day. Trent Active Minds vows to keep the conversation going, as their whole mission statement revolves around changing the conversation of mental health. The group’s goal is to end the stigma around mental health just as Bell Let’s Talk started to do in September of 2010. If any student is looking for a way to keep talking about mental health and create awareness, Trent Active Minds continues to have many events throughout the year. Coming up this semester, TAM will have a Mental Health Panel so students can listen to others share their experiences. At the end of the year, they will hold their annual No Stress Day, which will be a carnival with all proceeds going towards Men’s Mental Health. The conversation about mental health does not have to start and end on January 29; thanks to groups such as Trent Active Minds on campus, it can continue all year.