By Martin Allen 
BELLEVILLE – A Belleville native who’s a member of Canada’s national women’s rugby is a new spokesperson for the Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign to raise awareness about mental-health issues.
Cindy Nelles, 23, appears in a recent video for Let’s Talk. After graduating from St. Theresa Catholic Secondary School  in 2011, Nelles studied engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, where she now lives. She led the Marauders, the McMaster rugby team, to its first Monilex Trophy  – a rugby competition among Ontario universities. In 2015. She was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Player of the Year and received a Governor General’s citation honouring the nation’s top eight academic and athletic All-Canadians.
Nelles also played for Canada’s national team, winning a silver medal in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France.
“They’re an incredible group of women, so inspiring,” she said, looking back at the World Cup. “I got to go out, travel the world and play rugby. Can’t complain about that.”
Let’s Talk Day is on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Let’s Talk is aimed at educating the public and removing the stigma surrounding mental health in Canada. To that end, famous people like Howie Mandel, Mary Walsh and Clara Hughes are part of the program this year. Nelles can now count herself among those stars for the 2016 campaign.
Nelles can now count herself among those stars for the 2017 campaign. She explains how she became involved with Let’s Talk.
“Let’s Talk reached out and contacted me asking to be part of their video. I was heading to Ottawa to receive the CIS award. There were eight of us from across the country receiving the award. We were able to meet up, and did the promotional video for Let’s Talk, and it was incredible.
“Initiatives like this are so important for mental health and mental health awareness,” she says. “Make sure that you sit down and have a serious conversation. Truly ask someone how they’re doing.”
Nelles also urged people to be aware of how they are feeling.
“It’s important to tell yourself how you’re feeling too. It’s OK to let your guard down. People try to be the hero, but you don’t always have to be strong. You can need help and should feel comfortable in that.”
On Let’s Talk Day Bell will donate ¢5 to mental health initiatives for every time someone:
- uses the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on Twitter and Instagram
- sends a text message over the Bell network
- makes a long-distance or mobile phone calls using Bell
- watches a Bell Let’s Talk video on Facebook
- uses the Bell Let’s Talk Snapchat geofilter