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Red Deerians mark Bell Let's Talk Day

Red Deer Advocate - 1/29/2021

The best way to "chip away" at the stigma surrounding mental health is by talking about it, says the co-founder of a Red Deer organization that helps young people fight mental illness.

On its annual Bell Let's Talk Day, which was Thursday, Bell donates five cents towards Canadian mental health initiatives for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view and use of its Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.

Rick More, with the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation, praised the annual Let's Talk event and said eliminating the stigma will help ensure people don't have to suffer in silence or alone.

"Whenever we have weaknesses, we tend to think we're on an island and we're the only one going through this. Then you start realizing it is kind of a common thing," More said.

"When you have depression, you (shouldn't) hide it. You (shouldn't) hide it from loved ones. But that tends to be what happens for whatever reason – may be they don't want to feel like they're a burden or they're embarrassed. Open discussion really brings us forward."

More said he has seen some positive change over the past few years regarding discussions around mental health.

"I've engaged a lot with the school system … and what I see in our youth has been so enlightening for me. They're so mature with how they deal with things and they're so open. It warms our hearts to see they aren't afraid to talk about it," he said.

Many Red Deerians showed their support during Bell Let's Talk Day. Both Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools posted videos featuring students and staff holding up messages of support for those facing mental health struggles.

On Twitter, the hashtags #BellLetsTalk, #bellcause and #mentalhealth were trending in Canada.

Premier Jason Kenney said in a statement Thursday that discussing mental health challenges is more urgent than before as we cope with COVID-19.

"As the virus claims lives and livelihoods, it also devastates people's mental well-being. People are struggling with loneliness, isolation, addiction, and lost savings, businesses and jobs," said Kenney.

"Whether mental health is a recent concern, or an ongoing part of people's daily reality, you can talk about it. You don't have to be alone, and silence will not have the final word. That's the message behind Bell Let's Talk Day. The day is also a fundraiser, raising $7.7 million in 2020 to support community initiatives across the country."

Kenney urged everyone to get the care they need.

Dr. Nicholas Mitchell, AHS provincial medical director of addiction and mental health, a certain amount of fear, stress or anxiety should be expected amid a global pandemic.

"I think it's important that as we're going through it and we see activities we normally enjoy be limited, we also have to make space for grief or anger wit the losses," Mitchell said in a video posted to social media Thursday.

"These aren't abnormal – these aren't things that would be concerning. But I think it's important to recognize that when our emotions are impacting our ability to function, are impacting our personality, are impacting our physical health, these are times when it's important to see out physical health."

AHS recommends people struggling with their mental health visit