Bell’s “Let’s Talk” Day started in September 2010, as a way to engage people to have discussions and openness about mental health in social media. Many celebrities have been involved with this well-intended campaign since its start, and researchers from the University of Windsor have reported that about 65% of these who engaged in the campaign on social media reported their experience to be positive. So, it’s a well-intended awareness campaign designed to reduce stigma and enhance healthy approaches to mental wellness. Nothing wrong here, right?
I used the phrase “well-intended” twice in the previous paragraph. There are a lot of people, perhaps the remaining 35% who did not report positive experience related to Let’s Talk campaign, who remain sceptical. Bell has been criticized for using mental health as a means of securing corporate good will and free advertising. Others are skeptical about the validity of a campaign operated by a corporate body which itself may have less than-optimal support for its own employees in terms of mental wellness.
Skepticism is one thing; healthy skepticism is something else entirely. Skeptics actively look for problems, but often see bad intent where oversight or simply a lack of experience may more be the issue. Skeptics also tend to find problems, but don’t offer much in terms of solutions. Healthy skepticism allows for people to question the intent of corporations like Bell without expecting an implicit bad intent. It would seem to me that yes, a corporation like Bell benefits from the good will and positive (and free) attention associated with the Let’s Talk campaign. But the campaign does raise millions annually and has made discussions about mental health far more open, at least in my clinical experience in which clients have indicated that the campaign or the associated celebrities has presented them with confidence that they are neither alone nor without help.
Could Bell do more? Likely. But I would suggest that they are doing more for the development of openness and honesty around mental health than most similar corporations. It would be easy for them to do nothing at all. I would hope that most of us would recognize that doing nothing at all is rarely a path to supporting those in our communities who need us to do something.