The publication of this editorial coincides with Bell Let’s Talk – an annual initiative that is recognized on Jan. 28.
Started in 2010, Bell Let’s Talk is dedicated to increasing mental health awareness in Canada and reducing the stigma of mental illness. With the impacts on mental health caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we feel Bell’s initiative is more important than ever this year.
It’s no secret COVID-19 has had detrimental impacts on people’s mental wellbeing. Many people have suffered from increased social isolation by staying at home for much of the last year. Others dealt with the anxiety of having precarious or non-existent employment. Adversely, frontline workers had to cope with the anxiety of increasing their potential exposure to COVID-19. Some have felt the despair of losing loved ones to the virus.
Another population segment whose mental health has been impacted is adolescents. The pandemic has caused social isolation and disrupted routines for high-school students. They have lost the ability to participate in extracurricular activities, and some have repeatedly had to self-isolate due to outbreaks in their schools.
Locally, there are, fortunately, supports available for adolescents experiencing mental health struggles. At the most recent Rocky View Schools Board of Trustees meeting, representatives from the Enhanced Supports for Mental Health (ESMH) mobile consultation and intervention team spoke about the group’s mandate. ESMH is a crucial resource for some students, and one we are happy to promote within our coverage.
For parents of high-school-aged children, we encourage you to talk to your kids about the importance of being open and honest about mental health.
Last year, Bell Let’s Talk raised nearly $7.8 million, which was redirected back into Canadian mental health services. The initiative has done a good job in the last 11 years of starting an important conversation in our country. Hopefully, even more money will be raised this year, and the funds can go toward crucial mental health supports for those who need it most.