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Mental illness can be a hard thing to talk about and, for those who have never experienced it themselves, it can be even harder to understand. Despite best intentions, much of the “friendly” advice directed at those battling depression, anxiety or any other number of mental disorders does little more than trivialize their pain. Think about it this way: Would you tell a cancer patient in the ICU, “Get up. You’re never going to get better by just lying in bed all day.” Of course not.

It’s equally ludicrous to expect someone in a deep depression to will him or herself out of bed, but yet, that kind of “encouragement” is the norm. While its symptoms may not be as readily apparent, mental illness can be debilitating in its own right. And like physical illness, recovery requires treatment, not just an attitude adjustment. Try applying these “words of wisdom” to other diseases, and we think you’ll see what we mean. It’s time we took all illnesses seriously – physical and mental.

It’s time we started talking openly about our mental health. Join the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 27, and help end the stigma around mental illness. For every text message sent and mobile or long-distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Aliant customers, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs. The same goes for anyone sending a tweet using #BellLetsTalk or sharing the Bell Let’s Talk image on Facebook. But talking about it is just the first step: Visit letstalk.bell.ca for more ways you can effect change and build awareness around mental health.

WATCH: While we’re on the subject, what if depression were a monster?