Bell brings on new faces for Let’s Talk

The telco adds new celebrity steam to the initiative as it enters its sixth year.

Bell Canada is preparing for the sixth year of its mental health CSR initiative across the country.

“Let’s Talk,” which is aimed at raising funds for, and building awareness around, mental health issues, has three new ambassadors for its 2016 drive ahead of Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 27. The three additions include singer-songwriter Serena Ryder, actor Marie-Soleil Dion and CFL player Étienne Boulay.

Bell launched “Let’s Talk” six years ago with six-time Canadian Olympic medalist Clara Hughes as the face of its mental health awareness drive. The initiative is part of Bell’s 10-year commitment to supporting mental health issues in Canada.

Hughes remains the face of the campaign and will be joined by previous supporters, which include TSN host Michael Landsberg, comedian Howie Mandel, entertainer Mary Walsh and Quebec personalities Stefie Shock and Michel Mpambara.

The telco’s campaign, led by Lg2, focuses on four areas of concern: anti-stigma, care and access, research and workplace leadership, and has partnered with over 600 organizations over the past five years.

To build support for and get Canadians to join in the conversation by sharing their own struggles with mental issues, the campaign will draw on personal stories from Let’s Talk ambassadors. This year new additions to that roster include Mike Babcock, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leags and Séan McCann, who is a singer-songwriter.

This year the campaign also includes Queen’s University’s Dr. Heather Stuart’s five tips to fight stigma, which were introduced in 2015. Stuart is the first Bell Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research Chair at the university.

The telco’s campaign strategy aims to kill two birds with one stone: get people to participate in a conversation using its services, while fundraising for the cause at the same time. Every time someone texts, makes a wireless or long distance call using Bell Canada and Bell Aliant services, the company will donate five cents to mental health care programs in Canada. That goes for social media activity as well, for those who tweet using #BellLetsTalk or share the Bell Let’s Talk Day image on Facebook.

In 2015, the campaign resulted in an upsurge of messaging, with Canadians sending in 122 million messages of support. That participation added more than $6 million to the campaign’s funding drive to support mental health awareness programming in Canada.

Since the campaign first began, Bell Media says Canadian access to conversations around mental health has also grown. According to a Bell-commissioned study by Nielsen in 2015, 81% of Canadians were more aware of mental health issues than prior to the campaign’s start. In addition, 70% of Canadians believe there is a more positive attitude towards mental health today, with 57% believing that the social taboos and stigmas associated with mental health have diminished.

The initiative was initially a five-year effort, which Bell extended for another five years last year, with the promise of committing another $100 million.

From Media in Canada