Last Wednesday was the annual #BellLetsTalk Day. The Bell Let’s Talk initiative dates to 2010 when Canada began talking about mental health, a topic that was not widely discussed at the time. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians struggles with mental illness in any given year. The goal of Bell Let’s Talk is to raise money and awareness, via talk, text, and social media, about mental illness and offer new ideas, help, love, and support to Canadians who are struggling with mental illness.

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5¢ to mental health initiatives for every call or text sent on their network and for every time the hashtag #BellLetsTalk is used on social media. Since 2010, over $90 million have been raised for mental health initiatives across the country.

On Wednesday, UTM held its second annual event titled “Let’s Talk UTM,” in support of the Bell Let’s Talk initiative, hosted by the Health and Counselling Centre and its team of wellness ambassadors, in the CCT Atrium complete with free treats, wellness kits, and toques. The focus of the event was to break the stigma surrounding mental health issues and get students actively engaged and talking about the mental health issues that affect them and their peers. The event highlighted many of the resources available for UTM students who are struggling with mental health issues or who just want to practice self-care. Most of these resources offered by UTM are included in your tuition.

 The Health and Counselling Centre (HCC) had a table where people were answering the question “What does mental health mean to you?” in Bell Let’s Talk bubbles and pinning them up on corkboards to offer kind and supportive words of encouragement to their peers. The HCC also had a table with a nurse and school psychologist who were explaining their role and how they can be of assistance to students. The Psychology Association of Undergraduate Students at Erindale (P.A.U.S.E.)  spoke about Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) at their table, explaining how to recognize the symptoms and offering advice on how to deal with it, especially now since we are in the heart of S.A.D. season. The UTM Fitness Centre also discussed their weekly Wellness Route walks and other fitness classes such as Zumba and Yoga. These programs are drop-in programs and are free for all students.

The event also showcased a Stories of Resilience display in which UTM students submitted their stories and experiences with mental health and how they fight their battles in order to remind people that they are not alone.

The number of students who attended the event made it clear that mental health is an important issue for university students. Everyone wants to be successful and taking care of your mental health the same way you take care of your physical health will help you get there. Just because Bell Let’s Talk day is over doesn’t mean the conversation about mental health is over too.