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Bell Let’s Talk Day for CAF Community Too

Bell Let’s Talk Day is taking place today. Each year, this national campaign raises awareness about mental health issues across Canada.

This year Bell once again encourages Canadians to be part of this important national conversation to fight the stigma surrounding mental health. Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, their families, and veterans are encouraged to join in the discussion.

“Every day, CAF members are willing to risk their lives in service to our country. Their reputation precedes them: strong, proud, ready. But we cannot forget that their service can come at a cost, both physical and mental,” said Rob Nicholson, 
minister of national defence.

On January 28 every text message sent, wireless call and long distance call made by Bell and Bell Aliant customers, and every time someone joins the Let’s Talk campaign on Facebook or Twitter, Bell will contribute five cents more to programs dedicated to mental health.

Thus far, Bell has committed over $67.5 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations, large and small, from coast to coast to coast across Canada.

One of the biggest hurdles for anyone suffering from mental illness is overcoming the stigma. It is the number one reason two-thirds of those living with a mental illness do not speak up.

“Our government is working hard to remove this stigma within the military community by encouraging discussion around mental illness, including partnering with Bell for Bell Let’s Talk day,” said Minister Nicholson. “We are also bolstering mental health services and support for members, their families and veterans. These efforts have included hiring additional mental health professionals, augmenting treatment and education programs, technological advancements, additional support to families and further investment in mental health research.”

The Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC)-Department of National Defence (DND) Operational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) program provides peer-based support to those suffering with operational stress injuries and for the families who have lived with those suffering from an operational stress injury. The program employs full-time Peer Support and Family Peer Support Coordinators, and also has a well-developed volunteer training and mentoring program.

Mental health is the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and represents 15 per cent of Canada’s burden of disease.

To develop and adopt mental health best practices in the workplace Bell is also working with corporate Canada and the Canadian health care community. The first of its kind in the world, the standards being developed will offer guidance to Canadian businesses and organizations in addressing mental health and mental illness in the workplace. With 500,000 Canadians missing work each day because of a mental illness, the impact on lost labour-market participation was an estimated $20.7 billion in 2012 alone.

DND and VAC have also partnered to operate and fund specialized clinics across the country to care for CAF personnel and veterans with operational stress injuries, including seven Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centres for CAF members. Additionally, the CAF delivers a wide variety of mental health services and programs through mental health clinics at bases across Canada.

“We place a high priority on the wellbeing of our military members, veterans and their families. We recognize that prevention is the first line of defence against mental illness, and offer comprehensive treatment for those suffering from mental health issues,” said Erin O’Toole,
 minister of veterans affairs.

To ensure continuity of care, DND, CAF and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) staff work side-by-side in 24 Integrated Personnel Support Centres across the country to provide support to ill and injured military personnel and their families.

If you or someone you know requires emergency mental health assistance, please seek help through your health care provider, your local emergency department, or call 911. Help is also available to military personnel at the nearest CAF health clinic or civilian emergency health care centre.

Services provided to military personnel and their families include: Canadian Armed Forces Member Assistance Program at 1-800-268-7708 (open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year), Integrated Personnel Support Centres and Family Support at 1-800-866-4546 (International) or 1-613-995-5234 (Collect calls).

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Vicki L Morrison

Thanks to her husband's military career Vicki reinvented herself as a writer so she could work from home, while taking care of their three kids. A former MFRC executive director Vicki is a passionate advocate for military families who loves telling their stories.

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