Canadian Armed Forces participates in Bell Let’s Talk Day through a panel discussion on mental health

News Release

January 31, 2018 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence (DND) held multiple mental health awareness events across Canada today, in support of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign against stigma surrounding mental illness.

The eighth annual Bell Let’s Talk Day on Wednesday, January 31, 2018, invited all Canadians to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness and support mental health initiatives across the country. On Bell Let’s Talk Day, for every text message, mobile and long distance call made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant, and Bell MTS customers, every tweet using #BellLetsTalk, use of the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame and Snapchat filter, and every view of the Bell Let’s Talk Day video on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, Bell will donate five cents to support Canadian mental health programs. As partners of Bell, DND and the CAF are proud to support this important initiative to continue the conversation around mental health and the stigma attached to mental illness.

Activities in the Defence community included the following:

  • A panel discussion on mental health at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa, featuring Bell Let’s Talk ambassador and retired Royal Canadian Navy diver Bruno Guévremont; the Director of Mental Health for the Canadian Armed Forces, Colonel Colleen Forestier; Master Warrant Officer Shelley Lamothe; Commodore Chris Sutherland; and Natasha Khattar, Senior Manager, Total Health Management, ADM(HR-Civ).
  • Multiple mental health forums held nationally by Personnel Support Programs, under Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.


“We’re conditioned to be tough and strong but there is a time now – and the CAF is recognizing it, this panel is the proof of that – there is a time to decompress from it.”

—   Bruno Guévremont, Bell Let’s Talk ambassador

“Stressors of life occur through all ranks and all ages and everyone has a point at which they’re going to need support. It’s reaching out and getting that peer support, spiritual support, colleague support that is so important, and not withdrawing.”

—   Colonel Colleen Forestier, Director of Mental Health for the Canadian Armed Forces

“I hit bottom and reached out for help and it was anything but career-ending: it was career-enhancing.”

—   Commodore Chris Sutherland

“The stigma in Health Services is that we care for everyone else; we don’t get sick. How do we look after ourselves better? There is peer support for those who aren’t ready to walk through our doors, and it is there so that when they are ready, they can.”

—   Master Warrant Officer Shelley Lamothe

“It’s our responsibility to take people who need support under our wing. We can facilitate these discussions and support one another.”

—   Natasha Khattar, Senior Manager, Total Health Management, ADM(HR-Civ)

Quick Facts

  • If you or someone you know requires emergency mental health assistance, seek help through your health care provider, contact your local emergency department, or call 911. Help is also available by calling the CAF Member Assistance Program or the Employee Assistance Program (for civilians) at 1-800-268-7708 (open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year) or by going to the nearest CAF health clinic or civilian emergency health care centre.

  • Canada’s new Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, released in June 2017, ensures that our people in uniform are well-supported and resilient – physically, psychologically, and spiritually.

  • Since the release of the policy, DND and the CAF have continued to expand on mental health initiatives. CAF participation in research forums and symposiums such as Warrior Care in September ensures that we find the best approaches going forward to awareness, prevention, and treatment for military personnel. The Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) mobile application launched in October enables CAF members and their families to apply mental wellness skills to real-life situations. The CAF-Veterans Affairs Canada Joint Suicide Prevention Strategy also unveiled in October presents a holistic approach to suicide prevention. Going forward, the Total Health and Wellness Strategy will expand wellness beyond the traditional health care model.

Associated Links


Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353

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