Bell Let’s Talk Day: The Mental Health Conversation Continues
The Canada-wide Bell Let's Talk campaign promotes mental health awareness, education, research and the need to end the social stigma surrounding mental health. Around since 2010, the program is well-known for its Bell Let's Talk Day each January and associated fundraising activities.With contributions from government, corporations and individuals, Bell's total donation to mental health programs in Canada has reached more than $93.4 million.
According to the provincial government’s 2014 report A 10 Year Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan for Saskatchewan, “one in five people in Canada experiences a mental illness or substance abuse problem. In Saskatchewan, this means that approximately 220,000 individuals are struggling to some degree. Over the course of a lifetime, 43 per cent of people in Canada experience a mental health problem or illness.”
Saskatchewan Spokesperson, Lesley Kelly
Saskatchewan resident Lesley Kelly is a spokesperson for Bell Let’s Talk. Lesley spoke to Refined about both her own lived experience with mental health issues and her role in raising awareness across the province.
Tell us a bit about you and your family
I’m an Ag Marketing professional and the mother of two young boys. My husband Matt and I farm 7,000 acres of canola, wheat, oats and lentils outside out of Watrous with my family. In 2015, I started my blog High Heels & Canola Fields to share my love of food and farming — and to hopefully bring consumers and farmers closer together.
How did you become involved in Bell Let’s Talk?
In July 2017, Matt and I posted a video, through Twitter, about our own lived experience with mental health challenges. The reception from around the world was immense and 99 per cent positive. People told us how much they could relate to our story and it gave them the confidence to speak out and seek help for themselves.
After the video, I was interviewed by CTV and then approached by Bell in early December 2017. The amazing part about being involved with the Bell Let’s Talk campaign is meeting other spokespeople from across the country. It’s humbling. We are real people and we come from all walks of life. Mental health does not discriminate.
What did you and Matt talk about in your video?
I opened up about the baby blues I experienced after the birth of my second son and the pressure I felt. Matt spoke about his struggles with anxiety, particularly as a Saskatchewan farmer away from his family living in a camper and facing long hours of seeding and harvesting. After a panic attack, Matt had the strength to say “Hey, I need help” even though there was a social stigma and perceived barriers to seeking support in an industry like agriculture.
How are you and Matt mindful of mental health now?
We recognize that for a farm to be successful, the general wellbeing of the farmer is essential. We make self-care a part of every day; it’s always on the agenda. That includes sleeping properly, eating well and exercise such as running, stretching or yoga. It also helps to have a passion, whether that’s photography or writing in a journal. We’re both doing great.
Lesley is also one of the co-founders of the Do More Agriculture Foundation, which is a Canadian not-for-profit organization focused on mental health in agriculture and helping the industry grow stronger. According to a University of Guelph study referenced on Do More Ag’s website (www.domore.ag), 35 per cent of agricultural producers met the criteria for Depression classification and 58 per cent met the criteria for Anxiety classification.
Mark your calendar for January 19 and join the conversation!