Let’s Talk about Bell Let’s Talk Day

Let’s Talk about Bell Let’s Talk Day

Bell Let's Talk

Let’s Talk: What is Bell Let’s Talk?

Bell Let’s Talk Day is an awareness and fundraising day. This year it is today, January 31.

How Bell Let’s Talk Day works

On Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates money towards mental health initiatives in Canada by contributing 5¢ for every applicable text (sent by Bell customers), call (also sent by Bell customers), tweet, social media video view and use of their Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. Every interaction counts, so you can combine these methods – or send several texts if you’re a Bell customer – and each will be worth 5¢.

And it gets people talking about mental health – and Bell.

From the Bell Let’s Talk website:

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 $86,504,429.05, and we are well on our way to donating at least $100 million through 2020.

Belll Let's Talk banner

Let’s Talk: The Good

$86,504,429.05 is a lot of money. As a concept for social media awareness, it’s FANTASTIC. People are talking about mental health. Any time people share their own stories, others realize that they’re not alone. Every time we raise awareness we have the opportunity to reduce the stigma. I myself discuss my mental health issues in part because I want others to know that they’re not alone and to see that if others are talking about it, they can too.

And, people are talking about Bell. I’m an analytics nerd and so that part of me marvels at the media impressions and social media impressions.
(I want to see their social listening report to compare positive, neutral and negative sentiments.)

Let’s Talk: The Bad and the Ugly

Every year on Bell Let’s Talk Day I read stories on Facebook and news sites about Bell and its subsidiaries disregarding employees’ mental health. Employees and former employees come forward with their experiences. I read about how their jobs negatively affect their mental health and send them on stress leave. I read stories such as this one, in which a former Business News Network discusses the mistreatment of contract workers (more on this below) and this one, about a radio host who alleges that she was fired because of her mental health issues. This article in the CBC, Bell’s ‘Let’s Talk’ campaign rings hollow for employees suffering panic attacks, vomiting, and anxiety, describes toxic environments. Even if it’s not common, no one should have these experiences.

This morning when I handed my partner his coffee and told him that I was going to go finish a blog post I started last night about Bell Let’s Talk Day his response was, “You mean about how they’re an evil company who use this day to assuage their guilt?” (Okay, “assuage” was my word, but in the 10 minutes that have passed I’ve forgotten his exact words.) The fact that we share these views is why we’re friends and partners (we were friends before we partnered). He reminded me that he was a contractor for Bell for a decade and knows things, and he spoke of Bell preying on elderly customers (one of his relatives) to sell them services they don’t need in order to meet quotas.

Let’s Talk about what I think

We need to talk about mental health year-round. This isn’t a one-day “holiday”, especially to those dealing with mental and brain health issues. Reducing it to a one day “hashtag holiday” puts it in association with “National Taco Day”. January 31 is also “National Hot Chocolate Day”. It’s not completely comparable, but the comparison is one day, hashtag.

Hashtag activism (aka “slacktivism”) is not enough! I often wonder if companies who tweet about issues for awareness (mental health and others) on one day of the year address it year-round. How do they treat their employees? What programs do they have in place? You already know that Bell has problems in this area. They’re not the only big corporation. I wrote about this in October in a post about World Mental Health Awareness Day in which I discussed my experience at my day job that day.

At the time, I was a contractor for a big financial services company through a staffing agency. The job quickly took a toll on my mental health.

I had mornings when I sobbed while walking my dog, telling myself that I really didn’t want to go to work. The environment was wrong for me. My ADHD and sensory issues were exacerbating my stress and depression. I finally told my boss about it because it was affecting my work performance and because of how unwell I felt. The red zone of my suicide spectrum (I just came up with that phrase now) isn’t attempted suicide, it’s me reminding myself, like a mantra that I repeat, “Suicide is not an option” and I remind myself why. That’s the point I was at.

I had never told a manager about my issues before but I had to admit that I needed help and I wanted to give a reason why I wasn’t doing my best work nor acting like someone with the decades of experience that I have. My boss was sympathetic and tried to advocate for me – for which I’m extremely grateful – but the administrator told him that they couldn’t accommodate my health issues because I wasn’t one of their employees, I was a staffing agency employee and I had to go through the agency if I wanted accommodation such as a quiet space.

Reading the account of the former Business News Network (link above) rang familiar with me:

My contract did not grant me access to Bell Media’s Employee Assistance Plan, meaning I had no access to mental health care through Bell.

He gave other examples of Bell contract workers being unable to access the Employee Assistance Plan because they weren’t permanent staff.

The company I worked for has two levels of staffing agencies – the one that I associated with, and a second one that they associated with. The two agencies worked together. My job was stressful enough and I had little energy to take it to my agency to go through the process. Thinking about it was disheartening. When I did talk to my recruiter, her advice to me was “think positively” (she said that) and “suck it up” (that one I’m paraphrasing). These are not things that should be said to someone who’s depressed. Conversations with this recruiter were the inspiration for this blog post, Never Say This to a Person With ADD. (She also said #4 on that list, “You’d hate working here…”)

Often times, being contract staff feels like being a second-class citizen. Need to take a sick day? A doctor’s appointment, a religious holiday that’s not a statutory holiday/day off? No pay. That’s the sytem. Being encouraged to stay home when I’m sick is great, but it’s a day of pay lost. Being told “If you stay late to get your work done, we can’t pay you overtime, and so you’re saying late voluntarily” when the environment isn’t conducive to productivity feels shitty, but that’s a systemic issue. What, was I supposed to leave tasks unfinished or done poorly? Sometimes I’ve been happy to stay late. Other times, unhappy.

Corporate advocacy and interest

Corporate advocacy for mental health is only valuable if each and every employee is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

There’s also the fact that it’s a publicity campaign for Bell with good ROI. They get to tap into existing customers and existing advertising deals. They are a media company after all. Altruistic? Not so much. They get both paid and free advertising. Lots of user-generated content (a marketing technique known as “UGC”).

Another thing to consider, from this article called All the #BellLetsTalk messages on social media don’t actually make much of a financial difference (from 2015): “According to the numbers released by Bell, only three per cent of the cash haul was the result of social media activity, despite more than 3 million tweets and 300,000 Facebook shares.”

Corporate interest and profit is always top of mind.

Will I support Bell Let’s Talk Day?

Sure. When I’m done this post I’ll tweet it out with the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. I’ll also retweet other tweets, positive and neutral. The more the hashtag appears, the more people are reminded of mental health – at least for today. The more we share our stories, the more we feel heard, less alone, less stigmatized, more hopeful.

We need to keep the conversation going today, and always. We need to support ourselves and our loved ones. If you are a  team manager, be aware of your team members’ needs. If you are an employee, speak up if you need to. Don’t be afraid of your mental health issues. Don’t be afraid that they exist, don’t be afraid if you need help, don’t be afraid to seek the treatment that works for you.

Take care of yourselves and know that you are not alone.



January Thoughts

January Thoughts

My to-do list currently has “blog January brain dump” on it.

I’ve been wanting to write, but had writer’s block and, if I’m being honest, so many other excuses. It hasn’t been about time. It’s been about lack of motivation, lack of discipline, or putting too much pressure on myself to have something to say. Does that happen to you? Habits are easy to make and easy to break.

The new year is usually full of content ideas, mostly involving self-improvement. However, I’ve decided that this year I’m NOT going to focus on self-improvement in January. It’s felt freeing to delete emails without reading them when the subject line indicates that it’s a variation on “new year, new you”. Delete. No courses. No challenges. No webinars. Few self-improvement commitments. I feel lighter for not over-committing and not reading every offer. My daily meditation practice is back on track and my yoga is near-daily now but they don’t feel like obligations. They’re self-care.

2018 Focus words

A couple of weeks into 2018 created my focus words for the year, and they have stuck: “Ease & flow” (two words, presented as one concept) and “surrender”. “Surrender” to me means doing things rather than avoiding them out of fear – not letting the fear of looking silly or fear of lacking approval stop me. When I meditate, I’ll chant the loudest “sat nam”. When I’m out someplace people are dancing, I’ll dance like no one is watching.  When a song comes on, I’ll sing a little louder than under my breath. The other day at Walmart, another woman walked by me singing along to the song that was playing. It’s not just me that sings in public.

Some years the focus words come easily to me, some years they take longer. This year it took a couple of meditation sessions before they spoke to me.

I can talk about gratitude, introspection and my path for 2018 but I feel that’s been done year after year. I can talk about what I did or didn’t do in the past year. Regrets, what I’m looking forward to. I don’t want to rehash. I don’t want to judge myself. I want to live like each moment is full of possibility and each day is a reset.

2018 will be a year of change and it might be the year I distribute all of the educational materials that I’ve created. It will be the year I start filling my client roster. It will be the year of making dreams come true.

I’ve been finding inspiration in podcasts. Not in self-improvement podcasts, but podcast hosts who successfully work on several projects. I listen to a lot of nerdy entertainment podcasts. For years I’ve listened to The Nerdist – celebrity interviews but not in a fluffy sort of way. These are the sorts of conversations that anyone would have with a friend that they’re getting to know. What inspires me: A lot of working actors create their own projects and opportunities. I do a lot of contract work. TV and film projects are like contract work (granted – some run for many years but it’s never guaranteed). It’s another perspective and another kick in the pants to create my own opportunities.

Some more updates…

Products I’ve discovered recently (contains affiliate links):

  • Genuine Health fermented organic gut superfoods+. Prebiotics help to improve gut health and this formula is made from 21 fermented organic plant-based superfoods. A word of caution: While it didn’t cause bloating (as the packaging boasts), the first few times I used it I had wicked flatulence.

  • Roasted chicory root. We recently moved and bought a coffee maker, and we’ve been making coffee at home every day. After hearing my partner suggest adding chicory root to our coffee, I included some with my last iHerborder. Chicory root contains inulin – a prebiotic, polyphenols – antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, among other benefits. After trying chicory root in coffee and then on its own with cream (like a coffee substitute), I’m wondering where it’s been my whole life. It tastes roasty and chocolatey. Maybe this will work for my chocolate cravings.


  • Not a new discovery, but this winter, in particular, I’m appreciating my Living Libations Rose Glow face cream. It’s on sale right now, which I didn’t know until I went to their website to get the product link.

Rose Glow creme

What I’ve been reading, what I’m currently reading and what’s next on my reading list
(Contains affiliate links):

  • Finding My Virginity by Richard Branson. I enjoy memoirs and autobiographies because I like to get inside people’s heads (or in the case of autobiographies, the version they want to present). I like to learn about people. Human psychology fascinates me. Branson interests me because he has dyslexia and ADD and he’s built what he’s built. I had a copy from the library and had to return it before I was done, but will be giving it another read in the upcoming months and perhaps I’ll share some nuggets of wisdom.
  • Year of Yes by Shona Rhimes. I downloaded this to my Kindle recently. The current Kindle price is $1.99. It’s one of my next reads.
  • The UltraMind Solution by Mark Hyman. I picked it up from the library this week and I’m going to try a new method of taking notes as I read. I highlight and flag books I own but I can’t highlight a library book.
  • Judgment Detox: Release the Beliefs That Hold You Back from Living A Better Life by Gabrielle Bernstein. I thought that this is the one book by Bernstein that I didn’t need until I decided that I do want to read it.  It’s one of the next books on my reading list.

What I’ve been watching (not wellness related):

  • I recently watched the show 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. It’s too dark to binge too much at a time but I found that watching 2 episodes at a time was perfect.
  • Also on Netflix: The new season of Grace and Frankie was released last week. This season’s cast includes Talia Shire and Lisa Kudrow.
  • If you’re not watching The Good Place (NBC), you should. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. Need I say more? Some episodes are better than others, but that’s TV for you. Is there anything Bell can’t do?
  • Not recent, but I watched the award-winning mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows from 2014 last year and was pleased with this week’s announcement that it’s being turned into a series. I don’t like horror, but I’m down with comedy horror and vampires in a Real World setting end up being hilarious when written and performed well. It sounds like a concept that could have begun with a stand-up comedy routine. Watch the movie trailer.
  • The movie Ingrid Goes West, starring Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen and Wyatt Russell is a good commentary on social media fame. The premise sounds like the movie could be the latest Single White Female plot, but it’s not at all. It won a Screenwriting award at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and has been nominated for a bunch of other awards. Hulu is currently streaming it. I don’t watch a lot of movies.

What I’ve been listening to:

  • In November I became hooked on two musicals: Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away. The latter originated in Canada. For about 6 weeks I listened to them regularly.
  • Podcasts, wellness-related: Sivana podcast and YogaHacks, both hosted by yoga teacher Brett Larkin, whom I adore. The Yogahealer podcast hosted bt Cate Stillman. Balanced Bites with Diane Sanfillipo. The Brain Warrior’s Way with Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen. These are just a few of the podcasts I’m subscribed to and I don’t listen to every episode. Generally, I listen while I’m walking my dog and sometimes while making dinner.
  • Podcasts, business: Sometimes I listen to The Fizzle Show, The Tim Ferriss Show, Side Hustle School  (hosted by Chris Guillebeau, author of Side Hustle, The $100 Startup and other books) and the Foundr Magazine Podcast
  • Podcast, entertainment: I recently discovered Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum, another podcast with an actor interviewing actors. I was going to share my favourite interviews from this one but when I looked at the list I realized that there were a half dozen or so. I haven’t listened to every episode.

If you’re reading this, give me your recommendations of movies, TV, podcasts and books.


Events: On Now & Ending Soon

1. The Heart Revolution – February 25-March 5.

More than 60 doctors, scientists, and experts teach you how to prevent heart disease, heal from childhood trauma, recover from grief, release resentments and bring more health, love, laughter and peace into your heart and your relationships. Experts include Dr. Eben Alexander, Rollin McCraty of Heartmath Institute, Dr. Steven Stosny, JP Sears (you likely know him as the guy who makes videos that parody new age spirituality), JJ Virgin, Sayer Ji and Dr. Tom O’Bryan. Join The Heart Revolution today and learn to heal, empower and follow your heart.

Join Here

2. The Thyroid Secret– starts today!

Dr. Izabella Wentz and her amazing team have produced this powerful 9-part documentary and it truly is groundbreaking​.

30% of the population could be walking around with undiagnosed thyroid disease. It’s one of the most overlooked diseases and is so often misdiagnosed.

For this 9-part documentary series, Dr. Izabella Wentz and her team spent the last year traveling all around the country interviewing top experts in thyroid health as well as patients who overcame thyroid disease.

Topics will include:

  • Underground information on how to recover your health
  • How toxicity robs us every day – plus what to do about it
  • Why food can be your best friend or worst enemy
  • The connection between stress, trauma, and autoimmunity
  • Finding hope in the midst of fertility issues
  • Success stories and SO MUCH MORE!

Watch Here

3. Miracle Mindset – free and upgraded options

In case you missed it, JJ Virgin’s Live Training on how to master your mindset was awesome! You can check out the replay HERE now. This Live Training demonstrated that a strong, positive mindset is the missing ingredient to reaching your goals in every area of your life! If you don’t want to watch the entire thing you ​can skip around. The replay ends tonight at midnight. That’s the free part. Want more?

Join the Miracle Mindset Academy. Enroll before tomorrow at midnight, and save 62% on Miracle Mindset Academy PLUS get over $278 in FREE bonuses!​

Learn More

Buckwheat Bean Salad

Buckwheat Bean Salad

Recently I had one of those instances where I looked in the fridge and cupboards and they all seemed bare. I didn’t want to order in or go out, so I decided to make one of my “clean the pantry” meals. It was either going to be rice and beans, or some other sort of grain and beans. I had lots of buckwheat even though I don’t like buckwheat. I chose the buckwheat.

Beans are full of protein and fiber.

I’m still on a turmeric kick. Turmeric has been a repetitive presence in my blog and Instagram posts. I credit it for me not getting sick when my partner was sick, and then when I did get that cold it was mild and short. I bought new boxes of Kleenex (really the Kleenex brand – I’m loving the “Ultra Soft 3-ply”) thinking that I’d run out of my 2 open boxes at home quickly, but the nose blowing was less frequent than expected. It was mostly a chest cold, with sinus pain and some nasal congestion.

Here’s my rationale behind the rest of the ingredients:

  • The mixed vegetables were for variety and crunch. You can use them, or not.
  • The wakame was added 1) because I really like wakame and 2) Because wakame is said to mitigate the gas problem caused by beans. You know how the rhymes go: “Beans beans are good for your heart, the more you eat them, the more you fart.” and “beans beans the magical fruit, the more you eat them the more you toot.”
    I ate this salad twice and the first time the wakame defense failed miserably. The next day my ass was like a wind machine. However, I added tuna to the leftovers and farts were minimal so either my stomach was used to all that fiber, or the added tuna helped. The nutritional benefits of wakame were secondary to me, but here they are:

    • Wakame is a good source of magnesium, which I’ve been trying to get enough of. Every cell of the body relies on magnesium and people tend to be deficient. Magnesium is integral to hundreds of biochemical reactions across all bodily systems and it’s depleted every 12 hours so it needs to be constantly replenished. If you’re feeling “off” try increasing your magnesium intake.
    • Wakame is a good source of iodine, essential for strong metabolism of cells, and also iron, manganese, folate and bioavailable calcium.
    • It’s rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, essential for brain health.
    • It’s a good source of a number of vitamins including A, B2, C, E, and K and vitamin D, which isn’t a vitamin, but a hormone.
    • It’s got a ton of health benefits including boosting immune function. Combine wakame with immune boosting turmeric, plus pepper and fat to maximize the benefits of turmeric, and you’ve got an immune system powerhouse. Turmeric might play a role in thyroid health. For more information about thyroid health, check out The Thyroid Secret, a documentary series that runs from March 1 – 10.
  • I really wanted apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and turmeric together. If you prefer a sweeter dressing you could add maple syrup or honey, but I prefer my dressing unsweetened.

Here’s the recipe:

Almond Crusted Salmon
Recipe: Almond-Crusted Salmon
Print Recipe
This salmon dish is packed with brain-boosting nutrition.
2 pieces
2 pieces
Almond Crusted Salmon
Recipe: Almond-Crusted Salmon
Print Recipe
This salmon dish is packed with brain-boosting nutrition.
2 pieces
2 pieces
Servings: pieces
  1. In a food processor or food chopper, chop the nuts and seeds until they are fine. This is the coating. The finer you get the mixture, the more likely it is to stick to the fish.
  2. Add the lemon zest and give it another pulse to mix.
  3. Rinse the salmon and pat dry.
  4. Put some coating on a plate.
  5. Dredge each side of the salmon, patting the coating on if that helps it stick.
  6. Heat 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil or olive oil in a pan over medium heat (amount depends on the size of the pan you're using)
  7. Cook the salmon for 4-5 minutes per side.
  8. Serve over greens, such as spring mix, that's been drizzled with juice from the lemon you zested (1/2 a lemon should be enough, but you decide how wet you want it). You can also add a drizzle of sesame oil.
Recipe Notes
  • You could start with almond meal or almond flour. I didn't have any.
  • You could use whatever seeds you'd like. Chia seeds and/or sunflower seeds would probably work. My intuition guided me to hemp and pumpkin.
  • You could replace the almonds with pecans or other nuts of choice (not peanuts).
  • I ended up with enough coating for two servings, even though I'd only thawed one piece of fish, so I've got leftover coating for the next time. If you end up with more coating than you need, you can use it on salmon in the future, or use it as a topping for salad or yogurt. If you're not going to use the ground nuts and seeds in the next couple of days, freeze the leftovers. They could go rancid.
  • I didn't use the best quality salmon (it was a frozen fillet from a box, bought at a grocery store) but the execution was nearly perfect. I say "nearly" because I didn't chop the nuts finely enough.

See this post for nutrition notes.

Share this Recipe
Newsletter Drop Tomorrow & Upcoming Events

Newsletter Drop Tomorrow & Upcoming Events

finding health & wellness newsletter preview March 7Just a quick note to let you know of a few things:

My next newsletter is dropping tomorrow. A lot of it is content you’ll find on this website, and a lot of it is not. I’d say about 50-50. In it, I’ve highlighted the following three events:

  1. The Eat Real Food Health Summit (March 17 – 23)
  2. The Whole Detox, March 17-April 18. I pre-ordered the accompanying book today.
  3. The Holistic Cannabis Summit (April 4-7)

Other content includes articles that I’ve read and liked, and other things I’m enjoying right now.

And hey, if you used to follow my old blog, Andrea the Gastronaut, I put up a post there last week. I called it, “Hi, remember me? I used to be a food blogger”. It’s rare that I use it, but I will from time-to-time.

Not on my mailing list? Opt in on the right.

Starbucks Canada responds to customers and adds Coconut Milk

Starbucks Canada responds to customers and adds Coconut Milk

Responding to Customers, Starbucks Brings Single Origin Sumatra Coconut Milk to Canadian locations September 8 (CNW Group/Starbucks Coffee Canada)

Responding to Customers, Starbucks Brings Single Origin Sumatra Coconut Milk to Canadian locations September 8 (CNW Group/Starbucks Coffee Canada)

After thousands of MyStarbucksIdea.com votes, Tweets and barista requests, Starbucks has added coconut milk to their milk alternative options. Coconut milk has been the second-most coffee-affiliated requested item on the feedback website. A few years ago I would have requested it too.


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