'We need action, not annual empty words': Bell Let's Talk campaign ads are 'awful', only for 'shock value', critics say

While the Bell Let's Talk campaign has raised millions, many want more mental health action -- without the branding

Wasting time in smartphone. Millennial generation mental health. Life in metaverse, not in real world. Conceptual of bad condition of broken hearted, sadness, loneliness or depress woman. (Oleg Breslavtsev via Getty Images)

Trigger warning: The content and commercials featured in this article may be disturbing to some readers.

If you or a loved one is struggling, visit talksuicide.ca. You can also call Talk Suicide Canada toll free at 1-833-456-4566. Québec residents can call 1 866 APPELLE (277-3553).

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Bell Canada’s annual mental health campaign day, Let’s Talk, is receiving criticism in its 13th year. While many across the country took to their social media to promote or take part in the day, including major corporations and facilities like the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators, Toronto’s CAMH hospital, the Toronto Film Festival and Calgary Police, some Canadian viewers and experts are sharing a different view.

This year, the campaign's television advertisements and billboards have struck a nerve. Some feel the grave subject matter, which addresses issues like suicide and anxiety, is sensationalizing the topic, as well as has the potential to negatively trigger people with mental health issues.

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Others point out that more needs to be done for mental health in the country, where it can often be complicated, convoluted and expensive to access the right services.

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Others were critical of the corporations intention. Some put a spotlight on Bell Media's employment practices and recent controversy over the firing of anchor Lisa LaFlamme.

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The Let's Talk campaign first launched in 2010, with the intention of creating a dialogue around mental health issues. It has raised tens of millions of dollars towards funding more than 1,400 community grants and various mental health programs and research. According to the Let's Talk website, one third of Canadians say they've taken action related to mental health since Let's Talk first began.