W While mental health may not elicit the same amount of public and media attention as other illnesses like cancer, heart disease and even COVID-19, the reality is that its reach and impact are just as significant, and it deserves to be in the spotlight a lot more than it currently is. This is just one of the many reasons why Think Shift has for years supported Bell Let’s Talk, and in 2020 formed a strategic partnership with The Do More Agriculture Foundation.
These great causes focus on bringing much-needed awareness to the importance of mental health, and on providing support and aid to those suffering both directly and/or indirectly with its many effects. As both Do More Ag and the Bell Let’s Talk initiative advocate, the best way to end the stigma surrounding this illness is to encourage people to speak up about their own experiences with mental health. By doing so, we not only draw attention to the subject matter, but also provide assurance to those suffering that they are not nearly as alone nor as “abnormal” as they may feel.
As such, to do our part for this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day, Think Shift asked our amazing team to share their own personal thoughts and stories relating to mental health. We are so proud of those who contributed, as we know it takes courage and candor to do so, and we hope that others find hope and inspiration in their words. We also encourage you to do the same if you feel comfortable doing so.
“For me, talking about mental health and mental health awareness is very important because connection with others is why we exist; it brings purpose and joy to our lives. The majority of persons suffering with mental illness do so in silence and isolation. We know that we improve our ability to connect with others by modeling our humanness and vulnerabilities. When we do so we not only make deeper connections, we also reduce the stigmas that exist. This means we not only need to be open to mental health discussions as they arise, we also need to encourage them and to lead them.”
Robert Thorsten – CEO
“As someone who has personally struggled with mental illness for most of my adolescent and adult life, I shudder at the thought of others suffering in silence. I unfortunately know the feelings of aloneness, weakness and even desperation that comes with these struggles and have seen and experienced the stigma associated with talking about or admitting to one’s illnesses. Thankfully, through the amazing work of Bell Let’s Talk and Do More Ag, these silent struggles are slowly being decreased as it is now more acceptable and encouraged than ever before to speak up, not just for yourself but as a means of supporting others who are struggling to do the same. While I wish I could have benefited from these organizations earlier in my life, my role now is to help bring awareness to these causes and to encourage others to do the same.”
David Lazarenko – Chief Growth Officer and Partner
“Mental health sometimes means having a complicated relationship with my mind and that's okay. It gives me something to constantly work at and get better at, not every day but some days, over time. My anxiety is a part of me. I'm learning to interpret it and understand the give and take. That takes time and energy and needs allies. That is why mental health matters to me. The more we talk about it honestly and unapologetically, the more allies we find who can help us grow and better understand ourselves and each other. We have a long way to go but the more we talk about it, the better we get at it and the more we can support each other.”
Alex Rohne – Account Manager
“Stigma and misinformation are two major obstacles that someone will likely face when struggling with mental health. To me, mental health awareness is so important because sharing experiences and educating ourselves and those around us not only connects us, but also proves that no one should have to suffer alone in silence. In my experience, awareness, education and acceptance only strengthen our communities, families and relationships. When we work together to break a stigma and have open and honest conversations about mental health, even more people have the courage to step forward for the help and resources that they deserve.”
Anne Royal – Marketing Coordinator
“I’ve struggled with depression from as far back as I can remember, so I know all too well how debilitating mental illness can be—and how difficult it can be for others to understand what you’re going through when you’re dealing with an illness that has no outward physical signs. I’ve definitely sensed in recent years though that the stigma around all of this is decreasing, as more and more people seem to be willing to talk about their own struggles with mental illness. And for those of us who do suffer from it, simply knowing that we’re not alone can help ease the burden somewhat. And the more we talk about it, the more we learn from each other, too, so I’m all for any initiative that helps keep these conversations going.”
Bruce Hiebert – Senior Copywriter
“When people talk about their health, it almost exclusively refers to the physical aspects. We tend to overlook our mental struggles and focus on the ones we can see, but our mental health is just as important as our physical health, and should be treated as such. Just like we care for our bodies when we’re sick or injured, we need to care for our mind when we’re not feeling 100%, and we should be just as comfortable talking about it. As we continue to break the stigma around mental health, we must remember that it’s okay to have bad days. But by being vulnerable and open about these struggles, we can continue to open up the conversation and ensure no one is suffering alone.”
Shanlee McLennan – Account Coordinator
“Growing up, mental health was not something we talked about or were taught to manage in school like physical health was. In fact, my first real conversation on improving my mental health didn’t happen until I was nearly an adult. I know first-hand the challenges mental health presents and the reality that many of us struggle in silence. As we work to break the stigma around mental health, it’s important we remember to check in with our friends and family frequently. You are never alone.”
Anonymous Think Shifter
“I have written four drafts of this because I find talking about mental health very difficult. Mental health is a deeply personal challenge that I and people I'm very close to battle with every single day of their lives. Our mind has the power to create the most amazing things, but it also has the power to create the most destructive of situations. Finding ways to help yourself and others at those times is so vital. I believe that when we open up to the reality of the life-long battle of mental illness we can better help the people we love before it's too late. We have to continue to talk about mental health to get an understanding of how we can better support and eliminate the shame, fear and isolation that people often feel. We must nurture healthy minds capable of happiness and brilliance.”
Dave Hardy – Creative Director