January 31st is this year’s Bell Let’s Talk day, a multi-year charitable program dedicated to the promotion and support of mental health across Canada. In September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk began a new conversation about Canada’s mental health. At that time, most people were not talking about mental illness. But the numbers spoke volumes about the urgent need for action. Millions of Canadians, including leading personalities, engaged in an open discussion about mental illness, offering new ideas and hope for those who struggle, with numbers growing every year.
As a result, institutions and organizations large and small in every region received new funding for access, care and research from Bell Let’s Talk and from governments and corporations that have joined the cause. Bell’s total donation to mental health programs now stands at over $93.4 million, and they are well on their way to donating at least $100 million through 2020.
The goal of the program is to help keep the conversation going all year long and make every day a day it is okay to talk about mental health. When it comes to mental illness, education is key. Having the right tools, knowing the right words to use and understanding how to correctly speak with someone experiencing a mental illness can make all the difference. Stigma can often prevent those struggling with a mental illness from seeking the help they need. That is why discussing the issues, ending the stigma and talking about what people experience is so important. It is something that has become important to Award winning Director and m & s Marshall Productions co-owner Matthew Marshall. “I see people all around me that I am friends with who suffer from various forms on mental illness. Whether it be anxiety, or depression or any other form of mental health issues, we all know someone that struggles,” Marshall says. It’s why Marshall has used the story line of mental illness and characters that suffer from it as key points in several productions he personal is making or that he has been a part of. In the Summer of 2016 Marshall Team up with director Corrinne Wood to produce a short film called Struggles Within that Wood wrote about depression told totally through dance in the mind of a young woman struggling with depression and who is trying to decide if she wants to live. When asked about the film Wood had this to say “mental illness is something really near and dear to my heart, and this film is designed to show an audience who may not be struggling with a mental illness what kind of daily struggles really goes on inside the mind of someone struggling with depression.” The film was release at the 2017 Chatham Film Festival but since has been pulled back to be re-tooled to better express and explain the issue of depression within the film. Marshall is a key playing in helping to get more dramatic shots that better explain and express the issue of depression through the new dramatic shots. Information about the film can be found on IMDb at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5872970/combined
Marshall went on in the fall of 2016 to begin production on a short film called Malicious Attack about bullying at a high school. The idea for this production has been in his mind since he heard the story of Amanda Todd, who committed suicide due to being bullied. Marshall said he decided then that he wanted to do a film on the topic of Bullying and its effects. In the fall of 2016 the right time came and Marshall was in production with the film until the spring of 2017. The film is in post-production. A few obstacles have stood in the way of finishing the film but Marshall is confident in 2018 the film will be released. Malicious Attack is a dramatic 30 minute film that focuses on the issue of bullying. The story that follows Naomi Spencer (Katie Ostojic) a teenager girl who is pushed to her limits by several girls at her High School who make her the target of their attacks. The relentless attacks come from three teenager, Savannah White (Elina Lattanzio), along with two of her friends. Naomi’s best friend Macey (Morgan Flanagan) tries to find ways to help Naomi expose the bullying, but Naomi is unwilling to come forward. The Attacks on Naomi continue until she is reaches a breaking point. More information on the film can be found on IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6156436/combined
Recently Marshall has begun a new project called Blue Love which he has co-written with Helena Rose who is co-producing and also playing the leading role of Kaitlyn Butler in the film. The story centres on Kaitlyn a nurse who is enduring domestic abuse at home and suffering from some mental illness which is blurring the lines of reality and fantasy within her life.
Marshall feels it is important to talk about the various kinds of mental issue that people are suffering with and that the most important thing is to end the stigma and talk about what people are going through. Marshall feels that it is important to talk about how people are feeling and what they are going through so that the stigma can be eliminated. He feels that mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering. “I think if we could all be a good listener and asking how we can help those around us who are suffering it would go a long way to helping expose what people go through”, say Marshall. He also feels just being there for people you care about, can be the first step to recovery.
Also he feels simple kindness can make a world of a difference. “Whether it be a smile, being a good listener or an invitation for a chat over coffee, these simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you’re there for them”, Marshall adds.
Two out of three people suffer in silence, fearing judgement and rejection. Starting a conversation is the first step towards eliminating stigma. That is what Bell let’s talk is trying to achieve. Knowing the facts, be kind to others, be a good listener and friend. In that way we each can be part of the conversation to eliminate stigma dealing with Mental Health once and for all.