The annual Bell Let's Talk Day has so far raised more than $7.2 million for mental health initiatives, surpassing the previous record as social media users worked towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health.

As of Thursday morning, the 2019 Bell Let’s Talk Day campaign had gathered 145,442,699 interactions, representing more than $7.2 million in donations. 

The $7 million also means the program has now raised a total of $100,695,763.75 for Canadian mental health, across more than 1 billion interactions since the annual event  began in 2011.

Actor William Shatner was one of the first to tweet his support, followed by Canadian singers Jann Arden and Celine Dion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

“We’ve come so far, but there’s still a long way to go,” tweeted Trudeau.

“What the world needs more of is kindness. And better mental health,” said DeGeneres.

Bell, which owns CTV, is donating 5 cents for each text message, mobile and long-distance call and social media mention made by Bell Canada, Bell Aliant and Bell MTS customers before midnight on January 30.

The company will also donate 5 cents for each tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, each view of the Bell Let's Talk Day video on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Snapchat and each use of the Bell Let's Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter.

Bell Let’s Talk Chair Mary Deacon spoke on CTV’s Your Morning about how the campaign has progressed over the years with more than 200 events taking place across the country. Despite that growth and clear progress in normalizing discussion of mental illness, there is still much work to be done, she said.

“The focus remains on eradicating stigma, and as a society, getting to that place where mental health is treated just like physical health,” she said.

Deacon’s involvement in Bell Let’s Talk comes from a very personal place. Her brother David struggled with depression.

“He was really worried that if people knew, it would affect his career as a doctor, his prospects in life,” she said. “There was a real sense of shame.” David died by suicide, and a number of years later Deacon lost another brother Ted to depression and suicide.

“I really hope that today, if they were alive, things would have been different,” she said.

More public figures, from NBA star DeMar DeRozan to singer Shawn Mendes, have come forward in recent years to discuss their own mental health. Even the Royal Family, traditionally quiet about their personal lives, have been vocal about mental health. Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, recently addressed his difficulties working as an air ambulance pilot.

“I was dealing with a lot of trauma on a day-in, day-out basis,” he said last week at the World Economic Forum. “There’s still a stigma attached to mental health, which we’ve got to completely obliterate before we can progress to the next stage.”

Men in particular are thought to need more help in vocalizing personal difficulties with mental health, Toronto councillor Joe Cressy told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday.

“Men don’t talk about their own vulnerabilities,” he said. “To be in touch with your vulnerabilities, to recognize them, to get help for them -- that helps you be a better person, it helps you be a better leader, it also helps you be healthier.”

Cressy wrote a personal essay in Toronto Life last month in which he opened up about depression and anxiety, for which he has sought therapy. “Mental health, it’s just like a physical illness,” he said. “Sometimes we just need a little care.”

Last year, #BellLetsTalk was the most mentioned hashtag on Twitter by Canadian users, according to data released by Twitter Canada. The Bell Let's Talk Day 2018 campaign reached more than 138 million texts, calls and social media mentions.