January 28, 2020

As we lead up to Bell Let’s Talk day on Jan 29, we’re reflecting on the incredible researchers, physicians and staff who have enabled St. Joe’s to become Ontario’s second largest provider of mental health and addictions care and research. We’re also thankful for the donations our Hospital has received from Bell Let’s Talk initiatives. St. Joe’s is a leading provider of mental health and addictions care in Ontario, and on behalf of our Hospital team and the people we’re honoured to serve, we’re encouraging our followers to like, share, engage and #reachout to support those living with mental illness.

As part of celebrating Bell Let’s Talk day, we wanted to highlight the support we have received from this campaign.

The power of peer support is something that Bell’s Community Relations team understands very well. That’s why the philanthropic arm of Canada’s largest communications company announced a $20,000 donation to kick-start a new peer leadership program at St. Joseph’s Youth Wellness Centre (YWC) in the downtown core. In fact, the Bell Let’s Talk community fund has donated a total of $40,000 to our Youth Wellness Centre (YWC) and have been a generous sponsor of our Mental Health Morning event since 2014!

In 2017 Bell Let’s Talk donated $20,000 to the Mobile Concurrent Disorders Clinician for LGBTQ+ Youth project through St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre. With its funding, the Youth Wellness Centre has hired a mobile clinician who now works with 30 young people a month with individual treatment plans and welcoming support groups to address their mental health and addictions challenges. Their work is truly inspiring. To learn more, please visit stjoes.ca/youthwellnesscentre


The 2019 $20,000 grant is from the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund and will help Lisa Jeffs, Manager of the YWC, to recruit a Peer Support Supervisor Role to hire and train 10 – 15 youth leaders who will connect with and support Youth Wellness Centre clients seeking help for their addiction or mental health concern.

“We can never underestimate the power of peer support. Knowing there is someone on your care team with real, lived experience with mental illness or addiction is very reassuring to our clients. It can help people to be more receptive to treatment and feel less stigmatized when they’re in our care environment,” says Jeffs.

Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk initiative said, “Every grant we make through the Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund changing how we view, how we treat, and how we understand mental illness. Peer support is emerging as an essential part of the mental health care framework—especially for young people. We’re pleased to help St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to launch a peer support program at their Youth Wellness Centre.”

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton’s Youth Wellness Centre is a safe environment for young people age 17 to 25 to receive expert care for mental health and substance use issues. You can learn more about the YWC and view inspiring stories of hope, healing and recovery at https://reachouthamilton.ca/

As we continue to celebrate #BellLetsTalk day, we also wanted to profile some of the real stories about how #BellLetsTalk and St. Joe’s are working together with partners to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health – specifically in the workplace.


Our Spirit of Hope Awards are presented annually at St. Joe’s Foundation’s Mental Health Morning event, which Bell Let’s Talk has sponsored since 2014.

Awards are presented to an organization, a youth, and an individual who have overcome significant mental health or addiction challenges, or who are making significant contributions to mental health and addiction services in the greater Hamilton community.

In 2019, Angela Jaspan (pictured in the middle above) was the recipient of the individual Spirit of Hope Award. Angela has been living with schizo-affective disorder for most of her adult life. Through programs offered by the Canadian Mental Health Association, and care provided by the Cleghorn Program at St. Joe’s, Angela learned to not only manage her illness, but transform her lived experience into a way to help others heal.

Thanks in part to Colours Cafe, Angela had the opportunity to recover from her mental illness, and help others on their journey while working in a friendly, welcoming work environment that prioritizes empowerment, inclusion and dignity.

Colours Cafe is located inside St. Joseph’s West 5th Campus. It’s a social enterprise; a for-profit lunch spot and coffee stop owned by Rainbow’s End, a non-profit organization driven by a social mission to offer part and full-time employment for people who have a lived experience of mental illness and addiction.

Now, Angela continues to put all of this experience, education and training to work as a part-time peer support counselor in the mental health and addiction program at St. Joe’s. It’s a fully circle story we’re proud to share on Bell Let’s Talk Day.

Thank you, Bell Let’s Talk and Rainbow’s End for continuing to set an example of what a stigma-free environment looks like for those who are experiencing mental health and addictions challenges in the workplace!

Looking to support the #BellLetsTalk initiative? For every text message, mobile and long distance call made by Bell, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers, for every view of the official Bell Let’s Talk Day video on social media, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, every application of the Facebook frame and every use of the Bell Let’s Talk Snapchat filter, Bell will donate 5¢ to mental health initiatives across the country.

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