Today's a big day for #mentalhealth here in the Great White North, as our nation’s largest telecom company, Bell Canada, blankets the airwaves as part of #BellLetsTalk Day
All you need to do is tweet, retweet, watch the video, use the Facebook frame or Snapchat filter, or if you’re a Bell customer, send a text or make a mobile or long distance call. For each one, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health initiatives.
Awesome stuff all. But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking we can sling around a hashtag for a few hours and call the problem solved. Slacktivism hasn’t cured war, eliminated terrorism, ended racism, or rebalanced historic gender imbalance. And it won’t “fix” this, either.
Let’s also not subscribe to the notion that Bell, which regularly sends HR teams to offices across the country to fire people simply because the accountants need better margins this quarter, is somehow not qualified to do this because it’s a lousy place to work.
Disclosure: I worked for Bell Media for a few years before resigning. I remember well when the HR folks showed up and called folks, one-by-one, into the conference room. I remember what it felt like to work for a company where individual performance had zero correlation to your career path. The depressive shockwaves buffeted us year-round, as otherwise loyal employees wondered when their time would be up.
It feels disingenuous for a company that summarily abuses employees’ mental health to wrap itself in the kumbaya flag of mental health awareness. But life isn’t black-and-white. And if Bell doesn’t underpin this campaign, who will? Who else, at this scale, is out there pushing toward a better future where mental health is finally, justifiably viewed on the same plane as every other kind of health?
I grew up in a house where those who suffered were “cuckoo”, where mental health professionals were derisively called “shrinks”, and those who suffered were shunned. Bell may indeed suck as an employer, but it deserves our support in ensuring all of us can seek mental health care just as easily as we get treated for cancer or heart disease.
Until that happens, #BellLetsTalk is our best hope to #endthestigma.