If you logged onto social media at all on January 28th, you probably saw the site filled with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk.  In fact, on Twitter, more than three million tweets were sent out on that day containing that hashtag.  Throughout the entire day, a total of 109,451,719 tweets, Facebook shares, and texts involved this hashtag.

All of this was part of the fourth annual “Let’s Talk” day that was started by the Canadian telecommunications company Bell.  One of their goals for the day included raising money for mental health programs in Canada.  For each tweet that included the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell donated five cents to the cause.  Famous celebrities and athletes helped turn the hashtag into a trending topic by sending out a tweet and endorsing the hashtag.  With over a billion interactions through Twitter, Facebook, and texts, over 6 million dollars was raised.  This was a record year for the campaign with more interactions and money raised than in previous years.

The second goal of this day was to raise awareness of mental illnesses.  By having the hashtag go viral around social media, Bell hopes that it will start conversations about mental illness.  Mental illness is often not discussed as a “real illness”.  Many people believe that a mental illness can be fought off and cured without medical or professional help.  Bell wants to end this negative stigma around mental illness and have it spoken about like any other physical ailment.  This can only be done if people are willing to be educated about the truths and myths that define our view of mental health.   By raising awareness about such issues, Bell hopes that they will push others to seek more information. Acts as simple as paying attention to the language we use and avoiding outdated and offensive words such as “psycho” and “nut” can make a big wave in dissolving the stigma.  Ending the negative views of our society  will make it easier for those who suffer from mental illnesses to talk about their experiences and seek much needed help.

Mental illness affects more people than you realize.  There is still a large amount of work that needs to be done to further the talk about mental illness.  Bell is beginning the conversation. Now it is up to us to continue it moving forward.