January 31, 2018 was Bell Let’s Talk Day and Ms. Thompson’s Grade 6 class got involved in a big way.

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.

Ms. Thompson’s Grade 6 class has been exploring the purpose behind this nationwide initiative, investigating what mental health is, exploring how they can support the mental health of both others, and themselves, and working towards reducing the stigma around mental illness.

“We learned a lot about the stigma that comes along with mental health, and how to not have judgements about other people and how to make them feel comfortable and accepted,” said Grade 6 students, Maya Arnold and Syna Mangat.

The girl’s ran workshops with all the MY classes where they asked students to share their re-occurring worries. As a group, they addressed solutions to these worries, giving insight on how to combat them.

As solutions were presented the girls then passed a ball of yarn amongst themselves, eventually creating an intertwined web. Following the activity, they discussed with the group what the web could represent in terms of mental health, concluding that it shows everyone worries and, when we share our worries and struggles, we are able to create a network of support.

Further, the girls concluded that we are most connected when we listen to others and address these worries head on. The girls then noted that although we all didn’t share solutions, we still play an important role in everyone’s journey as active listeners showing we care.

Each MY student was left with a piece of yarn, representing the web they are a part of. Many students tied this to their kilt pin. The hope is that this sparks conversations with others about what it represents, further extending the dialogue beyond the classroom.

“The girls learned to never worry alone. If they ever feel like life is too much, talk to someone and let them know how you feel – there is always a way to get help,” said Ms. Thompson.

“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about.”

Check out some of the slides the girls made in support of Bell Let’s Talk.