Bell launches national charitable initiative supporting mental health
Unprecedented investment addresses a pervasive yet underfunded health issue: mental illness
Bells 4 action pillars: Anti-stigma, community care and access, workplace health, research
Clara Hughes announced as spokesperson for national Bell Lets Talk campaign
OTTAWA, September 21, 2010 Bell today announced the launch of an
unprecedented, multi-year charitable program to support mental health across
Canada. Practically addressing a pressing national health concern, mental
illness, Bells five-year, $50 million initiative supports an extensive range of
programs to enhance mental health in every aspect of Canadian life.
Mental illness impacts every person in Canada in some way, causes immense
personal suffering and takes a heavy toll on our national economy. The health
care community has worked hard to address the impact of mental illness, but
public understanding of the disease remains low and mental health support needs
to accelerate, said George Cope, President and CEO of Bell and BCE.
Bell will work to reduce the stigma still associated with mental illness while
enabling practical programs supporting new research and improved access to
mental health care. Mental illness affects our society more than any other major
disease yet receives less funding than almost any other. Bells mental health
initiative is dedicated to addressing the problem, said Mr. Cope.
In its 130 years serving Canadians, Bell and its team have made substantial
investments in communities and charities across the country, and will continue
to support a range of charitable initiatives with money, services and volunteer
time. However, Bells prime community investment focus and the majority of its
charitable spending will be dedicated to the promotion and support of mental
health across Canada.
Bell Lets Talk
Too few people suffering from mental illness get the help they need, reflecting
a clear reluctance to recognize and talk about the issue on the part of too
many. That stigma is a barrier to treatment, said Mr. Cope. Stigma surrounded
many diseases in the past, but concerted efforts to face the reality of
intensely personal illnesses changed attitudes and positively changed outcomes
for sufferers. To drive real progress in mental health, Bell has made reducing
stigma the first pillar of our program. Were launching a campaign called Bell
Lets Talk to open the national conversation, with a true Canadian leader at its
centre: Olympian Clara Hughes.
As someone who has come to know people of all kinds in every corner of the
country, I have seen the prevalence and the dramatic impact of mental illness on
Canadians. And Ive seen how much access to mental health care and support means
to those who suffer, said Ms. Hughes, Canadas six-time Olympic Medalist and an
Officer of the Order of Canada. Im gratified at the chance to take a leading
role in the Bell Lets Talk campaign, which will bring the mental health
discussion to the forefront. Talking about mental illness is the first and best
step in ensuring improved mental health in Canada.
Bell also announced Bell Lets Talk Day, which will work to raise awareness
about mental health across Canada each year. The first Bell Lets Talk Day is
set for February 9, 2011. For every text message sent and every long distance
call made by Bell customers that day, Bell will donate 5 cents to programs
dedicated to mental health.
The facts of mental illness and its impact on Canadians are startling:
At least one in five Canadians experiences a form of mental illness at some
point in their lives every one of us has a family member, friend or colleague
who will experience mental illness
Mental health funding is modest relative to other health care issues mental
illness represents 15% of Canadas health care burden but receives only 5% of
health care funding
Just one-third of Canadians who need mental health services actually receive them.
Mental illness is the number one cause of workplace disability in Canada
accounting for 30% of disability claims and 70% of disability costs
Mental illness costs the Canadian economy $51 billion each year in lost
productivity every day, 500,000 Canadians are absent from work due to a form
of mental illness.
Bells mental health initiative is being led by Mary Deacon, former CEO of the
CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) Foundation and an acknowledged
advocate for mental health in Canada.
Bell is undertaking a broad and cross-functional approach to supporting mental
health in Canada, funding improved access to care and ongoing research into the
prevention and treatment of mental health issues. We are also eager to build on
the efforts of other corporations by encouraging an enhanced focus on mental
health promotion, understanding and support in the Canadian workplace, said Ms.
Deacon, Chair of the Bell Mental Health Initiative. Bells well-funded and
wide-ranging program recognizes the debilitating impacts of mental illness on
families, communities and businesses, and works to positively contribute to the
mental health of all Canadians.
Community Care and Access
In cooperation with the Canadian health care community from coast to coast to
coast, Bell will work to enhance access to mental health care with solutions
ranging from local community support to telemedicine to improved hospital
Bell today announced its first major hospital gift to the Royal Ottawa Hospital,
one of Canadas top treatment and research facilities specializing in mental
health care. Bell will donate $1 million to expand and enhance the Royal Ottawa
Telepsychiatry Program. Other mental health care institutions and organizations
at the community and national level will also benefit from Bells mental health
initiative going forward.
Discussions are under way with several leading health care institutions across
Canada and Bell will announce other major gifts in the near future. Bell will
also launch a grant fund for smaller organizations looking to make a major
impact in improving access to care in their communities, from coast to coast to
coast, wherever a Bell or Bell Aliant company is connecting Canadians.
Bell will work with corporate Canada and the health care community to develop
and adopt mental health best practices in the workplace. That includes enhanced
and easy access to mental health information for employees, advanced
return-to-work programs and the creation of an overall culture of mental health
support across the Canadian business landscape. At Bell for example, every
senior leader will participate in new training and information programs to
accelerate understanding of and action around mental health issues.
To support research into better mental health understanding, prevention and
treatment, Bell will invest in best-in-class research programs at hospitals,
universities and other institutions across Canada with a truly national scope
and a commitment to supporting the best researchers wherever they work. Bells
support for strategic research into mental illness and health care solutions
will include new research chairs, fellowships and project grants on an
Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing consumers and
business with solutions to all their communications needs, including Bell
Mobility wireless, high-speed Bell Internet, Bell TV direct-to-home satellite
television and Bell Fibe TV, Bell Home phone local and long distance, and
IP-broadband and information and communications technology (ICT) services.
Bell was proud to be a Premier National Partner and the exclusive
Telecommunications Partner to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter
Games. Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For information on
Bell's products and services, please visit www.bell.ca. For corporate
information on BCE, please visit www.bce.ca.
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Bell Media Relations
1 888 482-0809
SOURCE Community & Sponsorship