According to A Queer Grrrl: How The Better Way and Bell Canada help conquer Mental Health
People with mental health issues are often stigmatized and misunderstood. The waves of mental illness are not often discussed among friends and family, unless someone has a disorder. 1 in 5 people either have, or know someone who is affected. How often do we hear ourselves criticize a person whom we see out on the streets or on the TTC who seems “not ok in the head.” That is a very natural reaction for human beings. That is part of how we have been conditioned as a community of “normal” people.
I want to bring all of you up to speed on a unique initiative, that is literally saving lives.
The Better Way.
I travel all over the city via TTC. East to south, north to west, and back again in any given month. To say “I’ve seen it all” isn’t an understatement; the bad, the good, and the indifferent. I have also been witness to many amazing examples of the truly better side of the TTC that most people may have never seen or experienced. Here is one example.
A young woman, I will call her Z, sits between two young women at Main Station. It’s 1:30 am, the time that trains are about to stop running for the night. Some how the two young women, who apparently didn’t even know Z personally, figured out that Z was in some serious crisis. They notified the proper authorities who showed up mere moments later. Communication back and forth on supervisor’s radio was instant. The Better Way knew what was going on.
The two young women assisted Z, by using Crisis Link, a partnership with Bell Canada and Distress Centres of Toronto. At each subway platform, there is a sign that directs people who feel they are in “immediate crisis” to the Crisis Link location. All the person needs to do is press one button on the payphone and they are directed to a non judgmental, confidential and helpful mental health expert. From there, the proper authorities are notified and the person in crisis is assisted.
The TTC website explains: ”A direct link between Distress Centres of Toronto and the TTC’s Transit Control Centre will invoke emergency procedures when required, including holding trains before they enter stations, slowing subway trains as they enter stations, and dispatching emergency personnel.”
Witnessing the last incoming trains coming into the station inch by inch so slowly, just seeing this entire team of people, saving someone’s life, was amazing. Shit like that doesn’t always hit the Twitter feed as not too many people are there to bear witness, but it is worth talking about.
Bell Canada is doing something very unique to tackle the overwhelming issue of mental health, unlike anything any other corporation in Canada has done. Bell’s “Let’s Talk Campaign” is “opening the national conversation about mental illness and its dramatic impact in all parts of the country.” The goal of the program is “to drive progress in reducing stigma.” The next fundraising day is Feb 12 2013, but the conversation is always present. Bell will contribute five cents for every text message and long distance call made by customers that day to programs dedicated to mental health. Find them on Twitter @Bell_LetsTalk to join the convo.
Bell also offers grants designed to create or expand mental health programs “that provide front-line support and/or reduce the stigma for those impacted by mental health issues.” One of Bell’s first donations was $10 million to the CAMH Foundation The goal was “to take the world-leading institution past its landmark $100 million fundraising goal.”
Last year, 78,520,284 calls, texts and retweets kept that convo going. Bell donateed additional $3,926,014 to mental health programs. If you are looking to change cell phone carriers, consider Bell Canada. They are truly one of the few Canadian corporations that understand the importance of giving back to Canadians.
words by shona ~~ Follow me on Twitter @Shona__Fraser