Bell runs risk of phoning it in

Margot Walker isn’t ready to talk to Bell

Margot Walker isn’t ready to talk to Bell


In the wake of Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk day – which raised nearly $5.5 million for Canadian mental health programs – experts are encouraging Canadians to continue to address and elaborate on the issue.

Last Tuesday, Bell raised $5,472,586 through an accumulated 109,451,719 tweets, texts, Facebook shares, and phone calls by donating five cents for each interaction.

Dr. Nyla Jiwani, a naturopathic doctor, said she is happy to see Bell sparking a conversation on mental health, but would like to see different treatment options brought to the forefront.
“I remember watching (a program about Let’s Talk) and there was someone from the government saying something like ‘We really have to get back to treating the whole person and really looking at mind-body medicine’ and that we’ve gotten away from that,” says Jiwani. “I thought, ‘They’ve gotten away from it, we haven’t.’ That’s something that we do on an everyday basis. I think people need to understand from a naturopathic point of view – that’s our belief system and it’s there.”

Jiwani uses acupuncture for anxiety and depression and says certain foods or food sensitivities can make people feel unwell or upset.

“Maybe its not always depression, as in a biochemical imbalance,” said Jiwani. “Maybe they’re not feeling 100 per cent because of what they’re putting into their body.”

Dr. Quynn Morehouse, a student counsellor at Sheridan said she likes seeing an effort being made to rid the stigma associated with mental health, but is apprehensive about Bell possibly using the event as a marketing tool.

“I’m a little weary when they’re calling it “Bell” Let’s Talk,” said Morehouse, in a phone interview.

Although campaigns like Let’s Talk help raise awareness for skeptics as well as those looking to get help but are having trouble finding it, Morehouse said there are still several barriers when looking for preventive care.

“I know here in Ontario, it’s just accessing services and accessibility to services, given that often times there’s long waiting lists, seeing a profession in the field is very expensive, can be very time consuming, and often times it’s too little, too late,” said Morehouse. “If you really want to be seen by someone, usually it has to be very severe and you have to be admitted to the hospital.”

“Any time somebody tries to educate the public, they often times make the mistake of oversimplifying the problem.” – Daniel Cout, clinical social worker

Bell plans to use this money to provide grants of $5,000 to $50,000 to organizations, hospitals and agencies dedicated to improving access to mental health care.

“What I worry about is that the discussion gets trivialized,” said Daniel Cout, a clinical social worker in Mississauga.

Cout’s encounter with Let’s Talk came vicariously through his daughter, who experienced the “dog and pony show” at her high school last Tuesday.

“They have these people get up there and say ‘I was depressed, and I found a passion and I stopped being depressed,’” said Cout. “The impression that (his daughter) got was that it was kind of a trivial way of understanding depression and that there’s this simplistic idea about depression and mental illness in general. In that if you just do certain things, you can beat it.”

Cout says he gives Bell credit for wanting to make a difference but fears a strategy-based approach can cloud underlying mental health issues.
“These problems are so complicated, so multifaceted, there’s no single cause for anything,” said Cout.

“So any time somebody tries to educate the public, they often times make the mistake of oversimplifying the problem.”

This was Bell’s fourth annual Let’s Talk day and on March 14, six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes plans to bike 12,000 kilometres across Canada to speak to more than 90 communities about mental health.

Students can book a free appointment with Sheridan’s Counselling Services at (905) 845-9430 ext. 2521.
In case of an emergency, Sheridan’s Counsellor’s advise students to call 911 or to go the the nearest hospital.