On January 25th Bell hosted the 7th annual Bell Let's Talk Day public awareness campaign to get more people talking about mental health. For every text and call made on its network, and every tweet, Instagram post, Facebook video view and Snapchat using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, Bell donated 5¢ more to mental health initiatives across Canada.
The experience of a chronic medical, as well as a mental health illness, can dramatically change a person's life. Research shows higher rates of major depression among patients with chronic medical illnesses. As Stephanie Horgan, LCSW of Oak Park Behavioral Medicine explains, "Chronic illness is complicated. When one is newly diagnosed, there is a challenge of learning how to explain your illness to others and learn who to let in on your journey of ups and downs. One thing we know, regardless of who you tell, is that chronic illness is not easy, and is a lifelong challenge that should not be done alone."
As for ostomates, some find a stoma life-saving and others see it as devastating. Everyone is different, there’s no one size fits all when faced with the emotional and mental aspects of living with an ostomy. In order to bring awareness to this important issue, ostomates from around the world are sharing firsthand experiences because learning from others can be the best source of help.
Learning that you have a chronic illness can bring up many different feelings. Jacob Ralston is a 12-year-old patient advocate living in Canada who had ileostomy surgery in 2013 due to Crohn's disease. Last year he wrote a blog post about his experience dealing with depression and how the illness made an impact on his physical and mental health. He says, “I'm completely aware of my medical situation… I get angry at the disease, at what it's taken from me, and the treatments that I have go through because of it. I've had tears adjusting to living with tubes and bags hanging off of me. I've asked, 'Why me?' and go through periods of being jealous of my other normal friends at school who are living normal lives.”
With love and support from his family, Jacob is not letting the disease or ostomy define him. In fact, he's on a mission to help others. With that goal in mind, Jacob's Healing Rooms was created to raise money for The Hospital for Sick Children. His vision is to create a positive environment for the outpatient treatments rooms in order to help boost kids' spirits and encourage healing.
"I may not be able to make the disease go away, but I can help to make a difference in the lives of other sick children needing these treatments too. And in turn, that makes me feel like I'm making a difference, that I'm needed." – Jacob Ralston
With $100 million committed for mental health initiatives in Canada through 2020, Bell is dedicated to making a huge social impact. Learning the facts and myths about mental illness helps others understand and starting a dialogue can break down stigmas. To learn more about the Bell Let’s Talk campaign and ways you can help get the conversation started, please visit letstalk.bell.ca.
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