An Ottawa woman who struggled with mental illness says talking about it makes it “less scary,” and hopes that on Feb. 8, Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk campaign will get a conversation started.

Rachel Scott-Mignon said she suffered from symptoms of mental illness for most of her life, but didn’t know exactly what was wrong with her. She was too afraid to talk about it and seek help.

At age 16, she reached out to her brother during a suicidal period.

“He told me it would ruin his whole existence if I were to take my own life,” said Scott-Mignon, now 29. “His words were enough that day to keep me from killing myself.”

 

Throughout her teens and early 20s, she struggled with depression and an eating disorder, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 23.

Then she sought treatment from the Royal Ottawa Hospital (ROH), where she has been a patient for the past five years.

The Let’s Talk campaign is a five-year, $50 million charitable campaign that supports mental health hospitals, such as the ROH.

Six-time Olympic medallist Clara Hughes, who battled with depression, will join other notable spokespeople to talk about mental illness for Let’s Talk Day.

Scott-Mignon said no one talked about mental health when she was a kid so she felt afraid to reach out to others.

“I was really scared of the stigma that was attached so I was really afraid that people would make fun of me or reject me,” she said. “That’s why I think Bell’s campaign is wonderful — it gets people talking and it encourages all Canadians to participate.”

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