I applaud Bell Canada for its year-long initiative to end mental illness stigma in the workplace.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, “On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness.”

What excuse do they give their supervisors for their absence? Surely not mental illness!  According to one survey, only 23% of Canadians would feel comfortable talking to their employer about mental illness.  There are many more who are suffering silently.

How you can create a mentally health workplace in 2015 includes comprehensive, well-informed approaches to prevention, promotion and anti-stigma initiatives. Y

Here’s how Bell Canada is doing it:

1.      LANGUAGE MATTERS

·         Words can help…but they can also hurt. Pay attention to the words you use.

 

2.      EDUCATE YOURSELF

·         Myths exist about mental illness that contribute to stigma. Learn the facts.

 

3.      BE KIND

·         Small acts of kindness speak volumes.

·


HOW YOU CAN HELP

·         Don’t stand by if someone is being labelled or bullied.

·         Treat a person who has a mental illness with the kindness and care you give to people with other illnesses through a friendly smile, a helping hand, a phone call or visit.

LISTEN AND ASK

4.    TALK ABOUT IT

·         Start a dialogue, not a debate


HOW YOU CAN HELP

·         Break the silence. Talk about how mental illness touches us all in some way directly or through a friend, family member or colleague. Stories of lived experience are the best way to help eradicate stigma.

·         Support mental health and anti-stigma programs in your community.

.

See Bell Canada’s video series for more information.