Fighting the stigma

1/24/2017 1:14:05 PM

On January 25, College of the North Atlantic (CNA) staff, faculty and students will once again join in the conversation and help break down the stigma associated with mental illness by participating in Bell Let’s Talk Day.
Each year, Bell donates 5 cents towards mental health initiatives in Canada by counting every text, call, and tweet made during Bell Let’s Talk Day. This year they have added Instagram posts, Facebook video views and Snapchat geofilters to the ways people can participate.
“College of the North Atlantic will again be joining the social conversation through this year’s Bell Let’s Talk campaign,” said Elizabeth Chaulk, Associate Vice President of Student Services. “The college is encouraging staff and students to participate through various activities at campuses across the province to increase awareness and understanding of mental health issues to help end the stigma associated with mental illness.”
In 2016, Bell Let’s talk set a record with 125,915,295 calls, texts, tweets and shares and as a result, over $6 million was donated to Canadian mental health last year. To date, Bell Let’s Talk has raised nearly $80 million through more than 597 million interactions on social media.
Ted Power, the guidance counsellor at Prince Philip Drive campus, says CNA has been involved since its inception in 2011.
“The most important thing with mental health is speaking about it. Just as we talk about physical health all the time, we should be talking about mental health just as much because it is equally as important. It feels like we are just coming to understand mental health now,” Power said.
“It’s important to communicate because being mentally healthy is comprised of connecting with others and being understood, with feeling you’re not alone in your struggle. That could be a major struggle or minor struggle – it’s very unique to each person. So be open about it because it is important to talk about it and remove the stigma. People can be afraid of what they don’t understand and aren’t educated on, but the more we talk about it, the more we understand our neighbours.”
In the six years that CNA has been involved with the initiative, Power says he has noticed people are more accepting of mental health issues and in encouraging others to get help.
“I think people more readily seek help, and often, for many people it is how they get to me or get to help it’s because someone else mentioned it to them so it’s that connectivity. The thing with mental unwellness at times, is we might not see it ourselves or we are judgmental and blame ourselves or think we might get out of it if you just toughen up. I think now people are more accepting of it themselves.”
According to Power, more people at Prince Philip Drive are taking part each year and that is reflected in a number of events being planned for Wednesday at CNA campuses right across the province.
“Every year that goes by the students are becoming more familiar with it which is certainly a good thing, and I think they’re understanding what the message is about,” Power said. “It’s about communication, having empathy for others in communicating about how we perceive the world, and comparing those thoughts which makes us feel connected to others. It is a cornerstone for good mental health because I think mental illness and mental health difficulties can be a lonely process, but you can feel connected to everyone when people are open and understanding.”
For more information about Bell Let’s Talk visit
Media Contact:
Glenda McCarthy
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic