LAKELAND - Jan. 25 is the nation-wide Bell Let's Talk Day, a special awareness event to highlight mental wellness across Canada. The significance of the day — and what it represents — isn't lost on local police officers, says Lac La Biche RCMP Const. Cassandra Calverley.
In the most recent month-end statistics for the Lac La Biche detachment, Calverley says almost half of the 406 calls in December were for non-criminal assistance, including well-being checks and responses relating to mental health issues.
"In January many organizations across the country put emphasis on mental health awareness," she said, encouraging community members to better understand mental wellness. "It is important that we normalize talking about mental health so people feel comfortable reaching out for help when they need it and friends and loved ones can talk about it together."
Since it began in 2010, the Bell Let's Talk initiative has raised more than $139 million for Canadian mental health initiatives. Over the years, the funds have been raised by the communications company donating five cents for every text message sent across their network on the awareness day. This year, the company will instead be donating a single $10 million sum to go towards their $155 million goal.
Across the region, organizations are highlighting the awareness day — and month — with events and promotion. Portage College campus locations will be highlighting the awareness day, part of the school's month-long mental health awareness focus. A week ago, the Portage College Voyageurs played their first game of January in front of a large — and noisy crowd — during the team's Make Some Noise for Mental Health.
The Bell Let's Talk Post Secondary Fund will start this July, offering funding and resources to approved post-secondary institutions across the county to improve student mental health. Other specific funding programs are also available for organizations, veterans and community programming across the country.
The federal government's Department of National Defence has created a day of virtual awareness for its military members across the region, the province, country and globe. Using this years Let's Talk Day theme of Let's Create Positive Change, DND officials are sharing their ideas for CHANGES through an online portal for service members and staff.
- Choose a mental health organization to learn about or support
- Help a friend, family member, or colleague struggling with their mental health by learning how to support them
- Ask about how your workplace or community is creating change for mental health
- Nurture your own well-being by practicing and learning mental health strategies
- Get involved in a mental health initiative or organize an event to support mental health
- Engage in conversations about mental health to fight stigma
- Share your actions using #BellLetsTalk and help inspire others to join the movement to create positive change
According to Mental Health Research Canada, more than half of Canadians struggling with mental health aren't getting the help they need. Other statistics show that one in four Canadians survey said they have been experiencing "high levels" of anxiety. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, each day, more than 200 Canadians attempt suicide — 12 of them will die.
Linking mental wellness to the escalating opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public Health Agency of Canada says the number of opioid overdose deaths increased by 90 per cent during the pandemic, now reaching 20 deaths across the country each day.