With help from Ellen DeGeneres, Bell Let's Talk tally hits new high

Dene Moore
National Affairs Contributor
Ellen DeGeneres posing with her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her tweet on Bell Let’s Talk day generated more than $14,000 for the campaign. Photo from Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres wants to talk about it. So do Ryan Reynolds and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

It was another record year for Bell Canada’s annual Let’s Talk Day, thanks in part to social media shout-outs from the popular talk show host and other high-profile supporters.

Ellen implored her nearly 65 million followers to join in the company’s initiative to break down the stigma around mental health.

It was retweeted more than 280,000 times, which in itself makes for a $14,000 donation to mental health from the Canadian telecom giant.

Reynolds, William Shatner, writer Diana Gabaldon and a long list of other celebrities added their social media voices to the call. Captain Kirk hit it like a full-time job, with somewhere north of 200 tweets, retweeted thousands of times by his 2.45 million followers.

Thanks only in part to the glitterati that got on board, there were a record 131,705,010 tweets, texts, snaps, chats and views Wednesday on the #BellLetsTalk ticker.

They will spur a $6,585,250.50 donation from Bell to its mental health initiative. Last year #BellLetsTalk Day saw 125,915,295 separate engagements on social media and the company’s call network.

This year the company added Snapchat and Instagram to the social media slate. On Twitter, #BellLetsTalk was a top trending issue not just in Canada, but worldwide.

That brings Bell’s tally since the mental health initiative began in 2010 to $86,504,429.05.

Six-time Olympic medal winner Clara Hughes, the national spokeswoman for the program, was effusive.

“Wow Canada,” she said in a statement. “We’ve shattered records again with a mental health discussion that reached every corner of Canada and points all around the world too. We keep on knocking holes in the dark wall that is stigma, and we keep on growing funding for new research and expanded care as the engagement builds and builds.”

Mary Deacon, chairwoman of the initiative for the company, says it was an amazing day.

“It’s become a grassroots engagement all across the country,” Deacon told Yahoo Canada News. “It’s just taking on a life of its own and that really is inspiring to me.”

But it is just one day she points out. The point is to keep the conversation going year-round.

“Every day needs to be a day that we talk about mental health and that we normalize mental health,” she said.

“Just like you go to the dentist to have a check-up, you might be going to see your psychologist. You might have a friend who’s got a broken leg and you show your support, so you would for a friend who may be dealing with a mental health issue.”

There are five simple ways to help end stigma, she says: language matters, so be aware of your words; educate yourself about the facts; be kind; listen and ask; and talk about it.