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Bell Let's Talk Day

Bell Let's Talk Day was established in 2010. The goal was to begin a new conversation about Canada's mental health at a time when people were very closed about it & reluctant to discuss their mental health.

Thousands of Canadians were suffering in silence because the stigma surrounding mental health was preventing them from reaching out for help. It was easier for most people to tell someone that they had cancer than to say they were feeling depressed.

Dedicated to moving mental health forward in Canada, Bell Let's Talk promotes awareness & action with a strategy built on 4 key pillars:

  • Fight the stigma

  • Improving access to care

  • Supporting world-class research

  • Leading by example in workplace mental health

Mental health affects all of us. I'm going to be vulnerable and share my recent experience with you.

This past summer, for the first time in my 30-year nursing career, I used some sick time to support my mental health - I wasn't doing “OK”. I would like to say that I recognized it right away & reached out. After all, I regularly tell patients that it is 'ok to not be ok’ - but it was difficult to admit it and do something about it.

We learned in May that my mother-in-law in Nova Scotia had terminal cancer but due to Covid regulations we were not granted permission to fly to see her until June 16th. I was able to provide the nursing care/support she needed until her passing twenty days later. Shortly after we returned to Alberta, my Dad had open heart surgery and suffered some complications. Due to Covid regulations, each patient only allowed to have one designated support person, which was me. As well, my Mom's health status was changing & she was waiting for surgery. Anyways, the details don't really matter as everyone has their own stressors, the issue was that I was expecting myself to just be able to handle these extra demands on top of my normal ones. After all, I had always managed, before hadn't I? And I hate to disappoint or let anyone down.

Looking back, I didn't realize I had started to only text, not call certain people because I knew the sound of their voice would reduce me to tears. I was exhausted but not sleeping well. I was making poor food choices. Fortunately for me I had a good friend & co-worker who reached out to me and gave me the support & understanding I needed to be able to look at things & to admit to myself that I wasn't ready to return to work when I was scheduled and to just carry on. I was not okay and it was going to be okay to take some time off. But I do have to admit that while I was off on mental health time, I wrestled with thoughts of "what if I run into someone I know when l am out and about” because I did not look sick? This is the kind of stigma we need to move away from.

After 3 weeks of a mental health breakı felt rested, I was able to talk & share with friends without becoming emotional. I felt ready to return to work & assume the demands of my everyday life. I am so thankful for the support I had. There is a quote that says “you can't pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself too”, this is something I am more mindful of now. Because my friend recognized what I was going through, it did not take long to "fill up my cup”, I was lucky.

Unfortunately, not everyone has this support in their life, which is exactly why Bell started their "Let's Talk Day”, making support more available, making it okay to reach out.

Check out this link and learn what you can do to help create positive change. There are simple tools that we can all use to join the conversation and take action to support mental health. Tools that will help us know what to say when someone reaches out and says "I am feeling depressed".

Cheryl Dechaine, RN.

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