Dear Gossips,

It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day in Canada. On television, I work for Bell Media so, yes, I’m here to tell you about it to be a team player. But I’m also telling you about it because we do need to talk more about mental health. We do need to better understand mental illness. We do need to find more ways to support those living with mental illness. And we need to hear their stories. 

My story is that I’m still learning and I wish I had started earlier. I wish I’d had the language for it when I was growing up. Because my ma, the Chinese Squawking Chicken, has been through some sh-t. Oftentimes I’d find her crying on her own, unable to get out of bed for the entire day. I understand now that she had depression and, in the years that followed, the stress of not having the awareness, and therefore no resources and tools to deal with the depression, would lead to other illnesses – Berger’s disease followed by kidney failure and now POEMS, which includes multiple myeloma. Her body’s breakdown has resulted in periods of intense anxiety and while she has only recently started to learn about mental health, I wish I could go back and change it, make it so that she didn’t have to feel so alone for so many years. 

But traditionally, in our culture, mental health isn’t prioritised. And there are still so many misconceptions about who suffers from mental illness. There is still stigma about those who have mental illness and this stigma can delay access to treatment and care. Mental illness, as we know, as we’ve seen, affects everyone. 

My colleague Marci Ien travelled across Canada this past December to talk to Canadians about their mental health experiences, telling their stories of struggle and survival. These are your loved ones and your friends, your coworkers and your neighbours. They are not strangers. They are people you know and recognise. They are members of our communities. And if more of us can start to see that, we can all talk more openly about mental illness and work together to find ways to help and to offer hope. 

Bell will donate 5 cents for every tweet and retweet today using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk to programs in support of mental health. Bell will also donate 5 cents for every text message sent on the Bell Canada, Bell Aliant, and Bell MTS network. Remember to turn off iMessage!

Yours in gossip,