Telecommunication company BCE Incorporated — better known by most as Bell — has wrapped up it’s Let’s Talk campaign after amassing almost $5 million in donations for mental health institutions through the endeavour.
The campaign, which pledged a five cent donation per text message, long distance call or tweet carrying the #BellLetsTalk hashtag made this past Tuesday.
It’s a noble endeavour which drummed up awareness for those living with psychological disorders, but it also spawned a great deal of cynicism and vague discussions about the realities and consequences of those mental issues.
And when talking about something as important as mental health, it is vital not to speak in vague generalities.
As is the case for many, mental illness has played a significant role in my life.
I’ve had family members and close family friends with deep-seeded psychological issues ranging the gamut from bipolar disorder to dissociative identity disorder. I’ve dated a woman with an eating disorder. One of my closest friends in the twilight years of high school grappled — and continues to grapple — with clinical depression.
Having seen, first hand, the struggles that people afflicted with mental conditions must endure on a daily basis has been harrowing as an individual who, by most metrics, is psychologically sound.
I could only imagine the profound impact each disorder has had on their individual lives.
I can recall, very clearly, a conversation I had with an ex-girlfriend about her eating disorder. She was medicated at the time, and so her head was clear. She asked me, point blank, what it was like to lead such a profoundly ‘normal’ life.
By her standards, as someone who struggles to eat, and then struggles not to purge the food she has eaten after eating, any individual who eats and does not need to purge immediately after to feel comfortable — for whatever reason — is leading a ‘normal’ life.
But herein lies the issue with the question: no individual leads a normal life, and for someone with a mental disorder, speaking about normalcy could potentially be triggering.
Everybody lives his or her life differently, and has a profoundly different routine and perspective. As such, everybody deviates from normalcy, in some form or another.
What separates those of us without psychological disorders from those of us who have one is the fact that our “quirks” do not inform our decision-making process, but rather have been formed as a result of that process.
The understanding of many psychological conditions is, ultimately, a very primitive and unrefined science.
For individuals who have never been touched by a psychological disorder to speak about them could result in the unfortunate spread of misinformation.
But researchers and medical professionals need money to find new, more effective solutions to these issues, and to better educate an increasingly self-aware society about them.
In that respect, the Let’s Talk campaign has become a valuable part of the Canadian solution.
Hopefully the funds raised by Bell deliver real results for those who struggle with their disorders in their day-to-day.