Everything wrong with Bell Let’s Talk

Last year, I wrote a piece for this blog about the importance of Bell Let’s Talk and what it means to me.

I was really hoping that we made some sort of a change last year with ending the stigma towards people struggling with mental health.

But we didn’t.

Sure, Bell ended up raising $5,472,585.90 in 2014 alone through this campaign, yet somehow the stigma still stands. Why is that? Because Bell Let’s Talk isn’t working.

So this year, I’m going to try a different approach. I’m going to talk about everything that’s wrong with the Bell Let’s Talk event.

The largest problem with this campaign in my opinion is the fact that it makes an annual occasion out of a problem that lasts 365 (or 366) days a year. I have similar issues with the concept of Black History Month; we end up trivializing mental health by only talking about it on this one day, when it’s trendy and popular to talk about it. It’s like we are downplaying it’s importance, and that isn’t going to get the point across.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Even if we all hashtagged #BellLetsTalk every single day of our lives, it’s still just a hashtag. Most people who make use of this hashtag every Jan. 27 are doing so to raise money for a cause they don’t fully understand. NOT EVERYONE DOES THIS, but none of us seem to be doing much on educating those who know very little about the struggles of dealing with mental health. They know it as a hashtag, as a charity. They know it as something they try to listen about once a year and they know it as a statistic, a shared photo of a broken heart.

The real problem with Bell Let’s Talk is the fact that everyone seems to be talking about the “cute” and “lighter” side to mental health. Tweeting things like, “You’re not alone” just isn’t enough anymore. We need someone to talk about what mental health ACTUALLY DOES.

So here it is, the messy truth:

Having poor mental health isn’t about waking up one day and feeling like sleeping in bed until sunset. It doesn’t feel like a broken heart or a nervous mind. It won’t just take a hug or a listening ear to fix.

Having poor mental health is like being sick all the time. It is waking up with a sore jaw because you spend the night grinding your teeth. It is wetting the bed still and not being able to tell even your parents because they wouldn’t understand. It is biting your lips and gnawing your nails until they bleed. It is “accidentally” burning yourself on your candle and trying to convince yourself it is a goddamn ACCIDENT because you don’t want to admit you’re relapsing. It is crying on the floor of a public bathroom in your own vomit and blood because you’re so fucking scared all the fucking time. It is feeling like you’re not safe inside your own skull, because your mind is a large, black hole and you’ve never felt more lost in your entire life.

It is not romantic or cute to watch; it is terrifying.

Imagine watching someone you love be torn apart by a deadly killer, one that you cannot see or fight. It is enough to break your heart.

So this year, educate yourself on mental health and it’s importance before it’s too late and you end up learning about it only when it directly affects you.

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