CALGARY -- Thursday marks the 11th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day — an initiative aimed at not only raising funds for mental initiatives, but also increasing awareness and reducing the stigma around depression, anxiety, or other illnesses. 

Now more than ever, millions of Canadians are struggling to cope mentally with the 'new normal' lifestyle changes of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bell Canada’s campaign aims to help by donating five cents for every text, phone call, tweet or Tik Tok video using #BellLetsTalk, plus social media views and Snapchat or Facebook videos using the Bell Let’s Talk filter. 

Numerous celebrities, athletes and mental health advocates have already posted their support and millions upon millions of social media posts are expected throughout the day. 

More than one billion interactions have been tallied since the inaugural campaign of 2011, raising more than $130-million for mental health initiatives. 

Need for mental health resources in Calgary 

The pandemic has plagued Alberta’s energy industry with thousands of jobs lost with the latest cuts occurring this week

Combined with a property tax crisis and new work-from-home orders, the downtown core currently has 16 entirely empty buildings and a vacancy rate that could soon climb to 30 per cent, according to a new report from Avison Young. 

Hundreds of businesses in the hospitality and fitness industries were forced to close their doors due to lockdown restrictions and worries are mounting that some may never open again. 

There's also been a recent spike in calls by those seeking support.

According to Calgary’s Distress Centre, social isolation and loneliness is the top issue for callers to the crisis lines.

The latest data from November 2020 shows that nearly 25 per cent of the more than 4,400 calls, online messages and texts the organization fielded were suicide-related, a 73 per cent increase in suicide calls compared to the same period in 2019.

The overall suicide rate is on a downward trend. Data obtained from Alberta Justice, indicates the number of people who died of suicide in 2020 is 490, about 100 less that the number recorded in 2019 (601).

The increase in calls is a significant concern for crisis centres and anyone in need is encouraged to seek out a number of free resources available including:

Important mental health contacts 

  • Emergency – 911
  • Addiction Helpline – 1-866-332-2322
  • Mental Health Helpline – 1-877-303-2642
  • Community Resources – 211 Alberta
  • Crisis Text Line - Text CONNECT to 741741
  • Family Violence – Find Supports – 310-1818
  • Health Link – 811
  • Income Supports – 1-866-644-5135
  • Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868
  • List of Important Numbers
  • Physician & Family Support Program - 1-877-767-4637
  • Toll Free Crisis Line / Distress Centres