The Canadian Red Cross and Bell Let’s Talk launch new programs focused on mental health training for Canadians

Ottawa, ON , Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Canadian Red Cross and Bell Let’s Talk launch new programs focused on mental health training for Canadians

New First Aid program will help both first responders and the general public provide mental health support in emergency situations

OTTAWA, January 26, 2016 – The Canadian Red Cross, Canada’s leading provider of first aid and CPR programs for over 50 years, and Bell Let’s Talk today announced a $150,000 investment in new initiatives focused on mental health training for Canadians.

“Good mental health is the key to a safe and healthy community,” says Conrad Sauvé, president and CEO of the Canadian Red Cross. “Thanks to the generous support of Bell Let’s Talk, we are proud to launch these new programs that will empower both individual Canadians and first responders to provide compassion and care to those experiencing emotional trauma and mental health distress.”

  • Canadian Red Cross will incorporate mental health programming into its standard first aid training, enabling individual Canadians to recognize the signs and symptoms of a developing mental health emergency and provide comfort and care until professional help arrives.

  • Launch of a new Canadian Red Cross program focused on training first responders to look beyond physical symptoms and evaluate emotional well-being following an emergency such as a natural disaster.

  • This new mental health training component will also be incorporated into the new section on Mental Health under the Learn tab in the Red Cross First Aid App, supporting both the general public and first responders who use the app.

“This partnership between the Canadian Red Cross and Bell Let’s Talk will provide Canadians everywhere with the resources to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health distress during an emergency,” said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk. “Initiatives like this are a crucial step in building mental health consideration into every level of health care, and to ensuring Canadians experiencing a mental health crisis get the support they need as quickly as possible.”

New research commissioned by the Red Cross shows that while the vast majority of Canadians (98%) feel it’s important to respond to a mental health emergency, less than half would be comfortable taking action. The research further revealed that younger Canadians (age 18 to 34) were most likely to recognize a developing mental health emergency than other age categories. The survey results found that most Canadians did not feel confident in their ability to assist with a range of mental health issues*:

  • Depression: 51 per cent
  • Suicidal thoughts: 59 per cent.
  • Acute stress: 61 per cent
  • Psychotic episode: 73 per cent

The delivery of first aid is a crucial component of care for an individual developing a mental health problem or in a mental health crisis. The Red Cross trains over 644,000 people in First Aid & CPR each year, including some 425,000 participants in Emergency and Standard First Aid courses, who will now receive mental health training. The Red Cross curriculum is delivered through a network of more than 3,500 Training Partners across the country, including municipalities, schools and businesses. In Canada, every four hours, people affected by a disaster receive help from the Red Cross.

The integration of mental health training into the Learn tab on Mental Health in the Red Cross First Aid App will be completed in Fall 2016, while mental health training will be fully integrated into first aid courses by Winter 2017. The training program for first responders will be available across Canada in 2017.

Bell Let’sTalk Day is tomorrow On January 27, Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell will donate 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every text message, wireless and long distance call made by Bell customers, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, and every Facebook share of the Bell Let’s Talk Day image at

More than 122 million messages of support were sent on Bell Let’s Talk Day 2015. After the first 5 annual Bell Let’s Talk Days, Bell has committed a total of $73,623,413.80 to support mental health initiatives across the country.

Bell’s donations are made at no extra charge to Bell Let’s Talk Day participants, though normal long distance or text charges, if any, apply.

*Online survey by Harris Poll on behalf of the Canadian Red Cross from January 8 to 15, 2016, among 1,001 Canadian adults ages 18 and older.

About Bell Let’s Talk The Bell Let's Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and antistigma campaigns, like Bell Let's Talk Day, and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit

About the Canadian Red Cross The Canadian Red Cross is the leading provider of prevention and safety training in the country; training more 1.3 million Canadians in emergency preparedness, first aid, swimming lessons and violence and abuse prevention.


For more information, contact:

Canadian Red Cross Canadian Red Cross media line, 1-877-599-9602 Québec media can call 1-888-418-9111

Bell Jacqueline Michelis (613)785-1427 @Bell_News