Happy #BellLet’sTalk Day!

 

Bell company will donate 5 cense to mental health initiatives for every tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk today. I thought I would share where the #BellLetsTalk donations really go and reminisce about my own success in the mental health advocacy community. It’s important to remember to do research on where charities send their fundraising money. I do extensive research on every charity I give a donation to make sure where my money is going and if it matches my morals, values, and reason for donating to the specific charity.

#BellLetsTalk has opened more than a charity fund…they have opened the eyes and mind of millions of individuals about mental health and illness. They started a conversation that so many shy away from. I am so proud of BLT for what they have and will continue to do on this beautiful day of January, 31st 2018. #BellLetsTalk

Where does the money go?

Over $7-million was raised in 2017’s #BellLetsTalk campaign. 2.54-million went towards grants for children and youth, $646K went towards indigenous communities, and 1.25-million went to military family support. Some of the initiatives supported included…

Stella’s Circle (Stella Burry Foundation) – St. John’s, NL

Stella’s Circle will use BLT funds to train 5 staff in horticulture therapy and to deliver 3 horticulture therapy groups a year. 

Helped? Mentally ill, homeless, addictions, etc.

New Brunswick Association for Community Living – Fredericton, NB

Funding from BLT for Association for Community Living supports the Not Just Talk project which will create a series of bilingual digital and paper copy tools – as well as workshops – that will help people with a developmental disability, their families and their teachers address mental health issues. 

Helped? Intellectual Disability 

Right to Play – Toronto, ON

Funding from BLT for Right to Play will provide mentors and staff with much-needed Applied Suicide Intervention Skill Training (ASIST).

Helped? Youth

UNITY Charity – Northern Alberta

Funding from BLT will go towards a 10-day program will be in schools and community spaces in Fort McMurray, Janvier, Anzac, Fort Chipewyan and Fort McKay. It will target young people from 10 to 18 years old with a 2-day program in each community, including school assemblies and artistic development workshops.

Helped?Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth

Second Opinion Society – Whitehorse, YT

Funding from BLT will go towards a distress phone line to provide crisis support and referral assistance in addition to Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

**I was looking at their site information and found this very useful mental wellness workbook for first nations…check it out!

Helped? First-Nation Peoples 

Centre d’Entraide aux Rayons du Soleil Inc. – Shawinigan, QC

BLT funding will support this organization’s day centre, a place where people with mental health challenges can drop in for help, companionship or just a cup of coffee, creating an environment where distressed people can feel safe and protected.

Helped? Mental Health 

I could go on for dozens of pages linking you to all the initiatives #BellLetsTalk has/will contribute to but you can find all of the information on their site with in-depth details about each initiative. Click here to learn more…

I also want to highlight that if you are a Canadian registered charity YOU CAN APPLY to receive some of the community funding with grants from $5,000 – $25,000 until March 31st, 2018. Click here to learn more…

Looking back on my past with mental health advocacy is one of my favourite things to do…and yes I will toot my own horn! As a child who spent 9 years in a mental health institution, I’ve learned how important it is to use my story to move forward. Sometimes, I get sick of saying the same things…sometimes I think my voice isn’t loud enough but on days like #BellLetsTalk I know that no matter how loud your voice is, we are making a difference by talking about this much-stigmatized form of health.

Yesterday, when I was in my humanities class we had to create synonyms for “asylum”, kids laughed and the #1 response was “crazy-bin.” Obviously, it was extremely triggering for me since I spent 9 years living in a “crazy-bin.” I felt invalidated, crazy, and like I was a burden. I felt I didn’t belong in university and that I was a joke. After class, I had one of my weekly appointments which happened to be a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group. I’m usually very open and I talk a lot in this group because I’ve been doing DBT for several years, therefore, I know the program very well. But yesterday was different, I clutched onto a napkin and looked down at the table the entire class, my heart was pounding, my skin crawling, and my head aching.

My whole life I was taught to distract myself from my emotions because they were simply too strong, but since I am at a place where I know I will survive, I have to learn how to feel emotions without going overboard and making a scene…which is incredibly hard but I was so proud of myself yesterday because I didn’t make a scene! I sat and felt the awful rejection, shame, and guilt. I know it sounds weird to say I’m proud of myself for feeling rejected…but hey, we’re all at different points in our journey.

I was gifted by the rest of my DBT group who reassured me that being in a medical care centre for my disability isn’t something to be ashamed of. They highlighted that even in the hospital I was able to get my GED, become a scholar, volunteer regularly, get into university, and tell my story. They said I might deserve to be there more than the kids who laughed at my old home in the “crazy-bin” because they were likely handed a silver platter into a parent-paid education system without any disability or health problem. Even though it was hard to hear people complimenting me, or trying to make me feel better, I didn’t discount it and I learned that even if some people will laugh at my journey, I have so many more people who know me personally and love me for who I am.

I’ve attached a link to some of my previous volunteering, awards, speeches, and interviews below. I recognize as male but in most of the volunteering and speeches below, it was before I began transitioning.

 

Thank you to everyone participating in #BellLetsTalk…let’s keep the conversation going!

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