I struggle with phone bills. For whatever reason, I have never been able to find a phone plan that suits me, and I always end up taking a ridiculous cut out of my bank account at the end of the month to finance my devices. With that being said, Bell media has never been my favourite company. Despite my evident inability to manage my finances effectively, and my growing frustration towards the phone company, Bell's efforts to break down barriers with the #BellLet'sTalk campaign cannot, and should not, be ignored. 

The #BellLet'sTalk campaign was initiated in 2011 as an effort to start discussions about mental health issues. The #BellLet'sTalk campaign website provides useful resources to help start conversations, to educate, and to inform people about the importance of communication.

The campaign has continuously encouraged participants to share stories, and support the cause by texting, tweeting, and most importantly, talking. The #BellLet'sTalk tag became Canada's top hashtag in 2016, and the campaign has shown no signs of slowing down.

As a media student, I'm notorious for being a skeptical and critical media consumer. Combine that with my distaste towards Bell as a company, and you would think that I would also be a critic of one of Bell's most successful campaigns. But that's not the case.

Throughout the years, I have heard countless arguments that say that Bell's campaign is only a scheme to increase customer support, and to develop revenue for the company. While this is in many ways true, these types of comments tend to delegitimize the truly remarkable impacts that the campaign has had, and continues to have, on so many people.

 On my own Facebook timeline alone, I have read countless stories from my own friends — specifically from people who seem like they have it all together. Social media makes it easy to showcase the very best parts of our lives, and it's a rarity to find a truly honest and vulnerable post about what really goes on in people's lives behind the scenes.

Two years ago, when I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline, I read a post written by a friend named Jacob about his own struggle with mental health. Jacob shared his experience of depression and addiction with all of his Facebook friends, and he accompanied the post with a detailed account, and explanation of the period in his life.

When I asked him, Jacob explained: "The post was originally intended to be cathartic more than anything else, but I think a lot of people saw something about their own stories mirrored in mine and a few of them shared those stories with me after reading the post... I was really happy about that response because I believe that the stigma ends when those who struggle speak the most openly." 

With hundreds of likes on the posts, and countless loving replies in the comments, I realized that the message must have resonated as strongly with those 231 other people in the same way that it did with me. 

While I don't know the stories of these 231 individuals, I do know that Jacob's bravery and willingness to articulate his thoughts wihout fear made some impact on all of them.

He made it feel like mental health was not a scary or strange thing to talk about. He helped me realize that I am not the only one who has coped with mental illness, or who knows someone who has struggled. In fact, his post showed me that mental illness touches more people than I could have imagined.

So yes, Bell is a corporation. And yes, I can imagine that their primary end goal is to generate revenue for their business. And I also firmly believe that it is important to be critical of our media. With that being said, it is also important to condone the corporations and businesses who are using their reach and influence to disseminate positive and forward-moving messages.

As with anything, there is always the choice to look at situations from the glass half full or half empty perspective. If the #BellLet'sTalk campaign is the forum within which millions of people feel empowered to share their stories, then I'm all for it. I think it's about time we all start looking at mental health as a glass-half-full type issue.

To close, I quote my friend Jacob: "Kintsugi is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with gold to celebrate the fact that the cracks and repair are an important part of the history of the piece, not something to be disguised."

Let's spend January 25th, and every day after that celebrating any cracks in our own history. 

Stay supportive, friends... And stay strong. #BellLet'sTalk

If you are struggling with mental health, please seek help, and don't stay silent.