Bell Letís Talk launches Post-Secondary Fund to enhance student mental health
Montréal, Wednesday, January 13, 2021
• $2.5 million in initial grants for post-secondary institutions to implement the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students
• Additional funding for new student mental health programs to launch this spring
• Bell Let’s Talk Campus Campaign virtual events at more than 200 Canadian colleges and universities leading up to Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 28
MONTRÉAL, January 13, 2021 – Bell today announced the launch of the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund to support Canadian colleges and universities in implementing the National Standard of Canada for Mental Health and Well-Being for Post-Secondary Students. Post-secondary institutions can now apply for a kickoff grant to cover start-up costs associated with implementing the Standard, followed by the opportunity to seek funding for specific student mental health initiatives this spring.
“Bell is building on our long-standing commitment to student mental health with the launch of the Bell Let’s Talk Post-Secondary Fund,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “Supporting post-secondary institutions seeking to implement the Standard and create new action programs, the fund is focused on accelerating the progress these schools have made in enabling the mental health of students throughout Canada.”
Bell Let’s Talk funding helped enable the creation of the Standard, led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) in partnership with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). The Standard provides a set of guidelines for post-secondary student mental health that helps increase awareness, reduce stigma, improve life and resiliency skills, and create a healthier and safer educational environment overall.
Most students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions are age 24 or under, the demographic most susceptible to developing mental health issues: 75% of people with a mental illness were first diagnosed by the age of 24.
“The Post-Secondary Fund means Canadian colleges and universities can immediately start the process of implementing the important mental health recommendations outlined in the Standard,” said Jennifer Hamilton, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS). “Bell’s leadership in advancing student mental health has had a powerful effect on campuses across the country. Students year over year are more aware, educated and inclined to ask for help.”
“The mental health and well-being of our student population is a top priority and we are very enthusiastic to work towards the implementation of the new Standard which is aligned with the College’s actions in terms of health, wellness and success,” said Guy Dumais, Executive Director at Montréal’s Collège Bois-de-Boulogne. “We were very pleased to learn of this new funding for post-secondary institutions and plan to immediately apply for a grant to enhance and accelerate our deployment plans.”
The Post-Secondary Fund will help universities and colleges build on their existing efforts to support student mental health by implementing the Standard’s framework. Covering initial costs associated with adopting the Standard, the kickoff grants are intended to encourage as many institutions as possible to be early adopters. The application period closes February 26.
This spring, Bell Let’s Talk will launch a second phase of the Post-Secondary Fund for institutions that have used the Standard to identify specific gaps or needs in their mental health support services and built new initiatives to address them.
“Universities and colleges will use this funding to accelerate the start of the implementation of the new National Standard on our campuses,” said Queen’s University Provost Mark Green. “We are grateful for the continued support of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign as part of our ongoing efforts to increase mental health awareness and reduce stigma, especially as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt by students across the country.”
Bell Let’s Talk 2021 Campus Campaign
Now reaching students at more than 200 universities and colleges in every province and territory, this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Campus Campaign has been enhanced with a digital toolkit to ensure post-secondary institutions can safely engage students across the country.
The toolkit is designed to keep the student mental health conversation going during the challenges of COVID-19 and contains resources like a virtual photo booth for students, faculty and staff to post selfies and share personalized mental health messages; wellness activities that encourage awareness and self-care; a digital Bell Let’s Talk flag to be shared on social media channels and websites; and short films about mental illness, hope and recovery.
Bell Let’s Talk has also partnered with Kids Help Phone for an Instagram Live event on January 19, focused on issues affecting post-secondary students and offering advice for young people coping with impacts of COVID-19. Jack.org will also be hosting a virtual Jack Talk on January 26, where youth speakers will share personal stories to help peers recognize signs of struggle and learn how to support others. To register for the Jack.org event, please click here.
“This has been a year like no other, and this is especially true for students across the country,” said Fred Meier, President and CEO, Red River College. “As we continue to navigate these challenging times, it’s imperative that students continue to stay connected and check-in with their mental health regularly. Red River College is proud to utilize the Bell Let’s Talk digital toolkit as another important resource that supports healthy minds on- and off-campus, and we look forward to hosting our own webinar to help students form healthy sleeping habits to reduce stress and anxiety – topics our students have identified and asked for more resources and support around.”
“Bell Let’s Talk Day is an important reminder to check in on the people you care about and take the time to listen – it really makes such a difference,” said Meaghen Kimmitt, Yukon University, Student Engagement Team Leader. “To highlight mental health and wellness for our students, faculty and staff, YukonU is hosting a mix of online and physically distanced in-person events throughout the entire week of January 25. Activities include hosting virtual sessions on mindfulness, light exercise and music, plus a Bell Let’s Talk flag raising so we can connect and share ways to practice self-care.”
“Even when students have access to valuable mental health supports like we do at NSCC, it is not always easy to feel comfortable in seeking this help,” said Daniel Abbott, Business Administration student and President of the Student Association at the Kingstec Campus of Nova Scotia Community College. “As a student who has struggled with mental illness, I know how hard it can be to talk about mental health issues and address them by taking advantage of the mental health supports and services that are available. The Bell Let’s Talk Day initiative helps reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and encourages students like myself to access mental health supports and services when needed.”
“Trent University believes that mental health support is an essential element of our mission. Through counselling, mental health supports and prevention programming that aims to build resilience, we try to support students seeking help and guidance,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, President and Vice-chancellor of Trent. “One of our aims is a supportive campus environment for all students. Campaigns like Bell Let’s Talk are important catalysts for ongoing conversations around mental health. Trent is proud to partner on this nationwide initiative to help better support our community and continue to invest in student support.”
To see a complete list of participating universities and colleges, please click here.
Bell Let’s Talk Day is January 28
On Bell Let’s Talk Day January 28, Canadians everywhere will join in the global mental health conversation. You can use a wide range of communications platforms to join in – and directly drive Bell’s donations to Canadian mental health programs simply by participating.
On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long distance call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk, every Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video, and every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. All at no cost to participants beyond what they would normally pay their service provider for online or phone access.
About Bell Let’s Talk
The largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let’s Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars: Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership. Since its launch in September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk has partnered with more than 1,100 organizations providing mental health supports and services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.