Bell Let’s Talk - Mental Health: Every Action Counts - What About ADHD?

CADDAC National Director

Written by Heidi Bernhardt

Bell Let's Talk is on Wednesday January 29th.

When I first heard this year’s Bell Let’s Talk theme, Mental Health: Every Action Counts, my immediate reaction was, yes let’s actively start to include ADHD in the discussion! Those in the ADHD community have been wondering why ADHD seems to have been ignored in yet another mental health campaign. After ten years, it’s time for us to include ADHD in this campaign! 

Did you know that it ‘s not only Bell Let's Talk that does not include ADHD in their discussions on mental health?

The Canadian Mental Health Association has no information on ADHD on their site. Out of 32 information brochures, on at least 12 different mental health conditions, not one is on ADHD.  The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has no adult ADHD clinic and does not see adults with ADHD unless they have a mood disorder. Most government mental health initiatives or committees do not list ADHD in their mandate and I just attended the Rotman conference on mental health and ADHD was not mentioned once.

It would seem that leaders in mental health do not consider ADHD a significant mental health disorder.  But we know different.

Did you know that...

  • ADHD is the most common childhood psychiatric disorder world wide and leads to additional disorders such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse when left untreated.  
  • Dr. Russel Barkley’s recent study found that ADHD shortens one’s life expectancy by up to 22 years if persistent into adulthood. That is 2.5 times greater than the top four risk factors that we focus on as a society combined; such as obesity, alcohol use, smoking, and coronary heart disease. 

Yet, how can we expect the public to recognize ADHD as a significant health risk as Dr. Barkley demonstrates, if our leaders in mental health do not openly recognize ADHD as a mental health condition?

I’m still shocked at some of the stupid statements about ADHD, that come out of the mouths of people that I consider good, caring, intelligent people. Their lack of knowledge can be forgiven. Their judgement and unsolicited advice on a medical condition that they know little about, can’t.

So how do we change this?  We include ADHD in this year’s Bell Let's Talk campaign.

Bell Let's Talk is asking people to talk about mental health, listen and ask questions and to educate themselves.

So, do all of that, but focus on ADHD.

Here are four actions you can take for #BellLetsTalk

  1. Talk, text and e-mail about ADHD.
    Share a personal story of your own, or one from our ADHDSpeaks campaign along with some ADHD Facts.
  2. Talk about ADHD on social media. Here are some posts that you can use!
    • BellLetsTalk about #ADHD. #ADHDisReal and is considered a #mentalhealth condition. Get the facts…
    • Did you know that undiagnosed #ADHD is a significant health risk which can impact life span, education, employment and quality of life? #BellLetsTalk about #ADHD as a mental health condition. Read @centreforADHD's policy paper
    • How can we expect the public to recognize ADHD as a significant health risk if our leaders in mental health do not openly recognize ADHD as a mental health condition? #BellLetsTalk about #ADHD @centreforADHD
  3. Fill out the Bell Let's Talk Speech Bubble
    What does mental health mean to you as it relates to #ADHD? Print out the #BellLetsTalk speech bubble, write your answer and share it with the hashtag #ADHDisReal. Don’t forget to tag us @centreforADHD
    Download Bell Let's Talk Speech Bubble
  4. Use your experiences to elevate the discussion around ADHD
    What’s one way that someone has shown compassion towards you as it relates to your/your loved one’s #ADHD? We want to hear about ways you have been supported as someone with ADHD or caring for someone with ADHD.
    Make an ADHDSpeaks Submission

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