Bell Let’s Talk Day was first observed in January 2011 with the goal to start a conversation about mental health among Canadians. Individuals struggling with mental health may be unfairly stigmatized or ostracized by their communities, but through education and donations to mental health projects and institutions, Bell has attempted to break down the barriers for Canadians who need mental health help.
Mental Health in Canada
Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and more can impact Canadians regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or religion. Some researchers suggest these conditions have been worsening over the past couple of years due to inflation and the COVID-19 pandemic, the latter of which has also increased wait times for accessing mental health professionals.
Mental Health and Seniors
Seniors may be especially vulnerable to mental health issues due to isolation and loneliness, which can be brought on by physical health issues and retirement. Seniors may struggle to get the help they need due to proximity to health care or stigma. Costs can also be an issue for seniors who are retired and don’t have access to mental health services such as counselling covered under their employment benefits. While awareness events such as Bell Let’s Talk Day have had a positive impact on Canadians’ understanding of mental health issues, seniors may feel there are still barriers to accessing the help they need.
How to Help
Keeping in contact with friends and family can have a positive impact on seniors struggling with mental health, as connecting with others is critical to reducing feelings of isolation and depression. While in-person connections are best, if possible, video chat is also a great option for keeping connected and can feel more personal to many seniors than texting or phone conversations.
For seniors interested in counselling, note that many counsellors offer a limited number of sliding scale services for those with lower incomes. Sliding scale counselling is a type of reduced rate counselling offered by private registered counsellors. It is based on what one can afford so those who opt for it don’t have to pay the full fee. Most counsellors can see individuals in-person or through video, which is especially beneficial for seniors with mobility or health issues who are in need of counselling services. The provincial government also has an online resource detailing where individuals may be able to find free counselling or online support.
Additionally, seniors should engage with their hobbies and participate in their community as much as possible. Seniors who engaged in activities outside their home and had a strong sense of community reported lower feelings of isolation in a Canadian study.
Volunteering is also a great option to help seniors stay involved in their communities and remain social with individuals of all ages.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Check out the self-help resources put together by Bell Let’s Talk for more information as well as tools to talk to others about mental health.
Phone and Chat Services from Crisis Centre BC:
9-8-8 | National Suicide Crisis Helpline/Ligne d’aide en cas de crise de suicide
310-6789 | BC Mental Health & Crisis Response/no area code needed
1-800-SUICIDE/1-800-784-2433 | BC Suicide Prevention and Intervention Line
Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
Sunshine Coast/Sea to Sky: 1-866-661-3311
Seniors Distress Line: 604-872-1234
Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)