Those on the internet Wednesday are likely to encounter a flurry of #BellLetsTalk posts on Twitter and Instagram. While at first glance it may seem like spam, the hashtag and accompanying tweets and posts are actually all for a good cause, raising awareness for mental health.
Created by Canadian telecom company Bell Canada in 2011 as part of its Let’s Talk initiative, Bell Let’s Talk Day is the company’s annual fundraiser to raise money and awareness for mental health and removing the stigma around conversations on the topic.
“Mental health is a serious, pervasive, underfunded, highly stigmatized yet very common health issue nobody wanted to talk about,” says Mary Deacon, the chair of Bell’s Lets Talk. “Much like many other health issues, it was really time to put this in the spotlight and give it the kind of attention and profile it deserves.”
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Usually held in late January or early February, as part of the campaign Bell promises to donate 5 cents (CAD) to Canadian mental health programs for every mobile and long distance calls made by its phone customers and every text sent by its wireless customers.
The company also donates 5 cents for every tweet and retweet sent using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, taking the campaign worldwide even for those that are outside of Canada’s borders.
On the popular social media site, the hashtag was the number one trending topic worldwide as well as the number one topic in the U.S. early Wednesday afternoon as people and groups from Canada and around the world flocked to Twitter to share their own mental health stories and take part in raising awareness for the cause.
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The company is similarly donating five cents for views of its Let’s Talk video on its Facebook and Instagram pages as well as for those sent using its Snapchat filter.
Last year Deacon says that company had 138 million interactions across social media and its other methods, creating an addition $6.3 million (CAD) that the company donated for mental health.
While Deacon says the company plans to continue its focus on Canadian mental health, Bell does not have a cap for how much money the company will donate to Canadian initiatives, with the company set to pass $100 million (CAD) in funding to mental health programs and organizations since it first began the Let’s Talk campaign in 2010.
“It really is about how people engage,” Deacon says. “We really have no control, it really depends on how much people engage and how much it takes off.”
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Suicide Lifeline: If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of day or night or chat online.
Crisis Text Line provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.