It’s ok to not be ok: Normalizing mental health today and every day

January 21, 2022

As we enter our third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all struggling. From the uncertainty of COVID-19 and its variants, to ever-changing restrictions and guidelines, remote work and schooling, the on-going disruptions to daily life and daily routines, to attempting any kind of work-life balance amidst it all, can all take its toll. And it’s normal for these struggles – for the daily uncertainty we feel – to have a big impact on our mental health and well-being. With all these additional pressures, it’s important we continue to protect our mental health and why it’s vital to normalize that, especially during the pandemic, it’s ok to not be ok.


In any normal year, one in every five Canadians is affected by a mental health issue or illness. But the last two years have been anything but normal. Every one of us has likely felt the stress, anxiety, fear, and loss brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic – and every one of us likely knows someone dealing with a mental health issue: our neighbour, our colleague, our friend, our loved one, even ourselves.

This is one of the many reasons that campaigns like Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, taking place on January 26th, are so important. For more than a decade, this campaign has been helping normalize mental health issues and promote better awareness and understanding – simply through conversation. As in past years, on Bell Let’s Talk Day Bell will donate 5¢ to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long distance call, tweet or TikTok video using #BellLetsTalk; every Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let's Talk Day video; and every use of the Bell Let's Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat lens. This can really add up.

Since the pandemic continues to affect every aspect of our lives, it’s important we support ourselves and each other. Here are some tips on how you can help yourself, your friends, and your loved ones cope with stress and look after their mental health:  


  • Recognize signs of stress: Stressors associated with a pandemic will affect each of us differently and not all of us will react to the same event in the same way. Stressors can impact us psychologically (e.g. feeling anxious) as well as physically (e.g. not sleeping well), and those that are out of our control can be especially hard to cope with.
  • Take care of yourself: This is an important step to help you cope with stress and can include such things as: limiting the amount of news you consume, eating well, exercising regularly, connecting with others, and focusing your energy on things that you can control rather than worrying about those that you can’t.
  • Take care of others: There are many things to help support those around you such as: listen to them talk about their worries, provide reassurance when possible, let them know it’s ok to not be ok, and keep as regular a routine as possible for your family.
  • Connect to help: Signs and symptoms associated with a mental health problem can include: changes in sleep, feeling anxious or depressed, feeling angry or helpless, having difficulties concentrating, having little patience, eating excessively, and drinking more alcohol. If you or a loved one is struggling, help is available.

And here are five simple ways to start a conversation with someone you think may need help:

  1. Educate yourself: Knowing the facts and myths about mental illness will arm you with basic knowledge and provide you with a better understanding.
  2. Your words matter: You want to help, not judge. Using such words as “psycho” or “crazy” can perpetuate negative stereotypes about people with mental illness
  3. Be kind: Simple acts of kindness can make a world of difference. A smile, being a good listener, or inviting someone for a distanced coffee and chat can all help open up the conversation and let someone know you’re there for them.
  4. Listen and ask: Being a good listener and asking how you can help can go a long way. Sometimes simply being there for people you care about can be the first step in their recovery.
  5. Talk about it: Break the silence. Two out of three people suffer in silence, fearing judgement and rejection. Being open to a conversation and sharing stories of people who have experienced mental health issues and are doing well can help eliminate the stigma often associated with mental health.

We are all in this together, so let’s join in the conversation today – and every day throughout the year – and do our part to support one another and help bring more awareness to such a prevalent health issue.

Useful tools: – developed by Doctors of BC, this website acts as a portal to an abundance of tools and resources developed by a range of mental health organizations in BC and across Canada.

Reaching Out: Supporting Youth Mental Health in British Columbia – this policy paper contains a number of commitments and recommendations which support Doctors of BC’s policy of raising awareness of mental illness in the province.

The Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Toolbox – A legacy of the CYMHSU Collaborative, this ‘one-stop-shop’ of tools and resources helps improve access and care for children, youth and families facing challenges with mental health and substance use in BC.

Bell Let’s Talk Get Help Resource Page – here you will find a list of organizations with helpful resources for children and youth, adults, seniors, families and caregivers, and culturally specific resources.