The Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign encourages people to “start the conversation” about mental health. Talking about the stigma of mental health helps us realize how prevalent these issues are and what we need to do to change society, and we are changing society. Talk does lead to action.
Since the launch in 2010, Bell Let’s Talk Day has engaged thousands of Canadians in this dialogue. I see this dialogue continued at all levels.
At the policy level, the Federal government has recommended specific mental health funding in the transfer of payments to the provinces. Provincially CMHA Ontario has specifically proposed increases to mental health funding from its current 7% to 9% of the health budget with investment in core services such as prevention, information, counselling, crisis services, intensive treatment, and housing supports.
At the service level, the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Norfolk Local Health Integration Network (HNHB LHIN) has engaged community leaders and clients through Patients First to change the manner in which services should be delivered. Through input with their advisory groups, the HNHB LHIN invested more than $13 million in mental health since 2012. At CMHA Niagara, for example, we have continued to expand our services. Last year we served an additional 19% over the previous year, with a total of 3,303 adults.
All of this talk has created action, albeit never enough, for increased services to our community. On a personal level, I am encouraged by the willingness of people to share their stories. Whether it’s a casual discussion at a coffee shop, or a formal presentation to our Board of Directors; individuals are less reluctant to talk about their personal stories than before. You can find a number of personal stories on our blog here. Clients and community members share their stories to educate, de-stigmatize and normalize the issue of mental illness. In the end they influence policy makers and local citizens alike to make necessary changes.
I am confident that all of this talking will continue to lead to action. So … keep talking!