With three daughters of my own, I can understand the fear that parents face should one of your children suffer from a mental health issue. It’s the reason we need to continue to have open conversations about mental health and end the stigma as soon as possible.
If any of my girls experiences a mental health challenge, I don’t want them to suffer in silence. But I also know that, as their Dad, I’m not always going to be the first person they go to for help, or maybe even need in a crisis. That’s a hard sentence for me to write, but I know some parents have had to write much harder and more heartbreaking sentences than this.
The point is, it doesn’t matter much who our kids reach out to for help. We need, however, to make sure help is there when they need it. It’s why we must continue to support our local agencies, mental health professionals and programs.
Since before I started at Hydro Ottawa, the underlying focus of our community work and investments has always been centred around youth. The reason we’re passionate about targeting our community investments and sponsorships specifically aimed at addressing issues (and removing barriers) for children and youth in our service territory, is because we want to improve the outcomes for future generations.
No matter our profession or industry, we should all want to make sure that the kids are alright.
At Hydro Ottawa, we’ve taken a more holistic approach to this. Whether it’s related to tackling climate change through our renewable energy initiatives, giving a leg-up in education through our apprenticeship partnerships, ensuring kids understand electrical safety at an early age with our free in-school learning programs, addressing youth hunger through the Ottawa Food Bank’s summer lunch program, or showing up to celebrate diversity and inclusion at Capital Pride; you could say, as an organization, we are all in for kids.
With one in five youth in Ontario struggling with their mental health, and suicide being the second leading cause of death for Canadians between 10 and 24 years of age, we know that as a community company, we have a responsibility to help if we can.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, Bell’s annual Let’s Talk campaign is perhaps even more important than ever. Children and youth are facing unprecedented isolation and mental health hardship like never before. That’s why we’ve teamed up with CHEO (the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario); one of the largest providers of mental health services in Ontario for youth and their families, to donate $30,000 towards their youth mental health programs.
The funds are from Hydro Ottawa’s ongoing e-billing initiative, where customers sign up to take advantage of our ebilling program. We decided to put it to use now, because sometimes, the need is immediate, and today, it feels like it is.
There are so many amazing organizations and programs to support, but we selected CHEO because it’s a leader in its field, and an equalizer when it comes to providing accessible care for all Ontario residents through OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan).
As the Bell Let’s Talk campaign videos so expertly drive home, when it comes to mental health, now more than ever, every action counts.
Anticipating that there are many more months to go, remember to check in with your coworkers, friends, family and kids often.