On the fifth anniversary of the launch of Bell Let’s Talk, Bell Canada renewed its commitment to the mental health initiative by investing $100 million in the program.

Speaking at a news conference at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on Tuesday, Bell Canada President and CEO George Cope said the funding would be used to keep the program going for at least another five years.

Bell Let’s Talk, a national initiative that supports mental health research and outreach programs, began in 2010 and Cope said that before it was launched, many people came to him with reservations.

“I can remember people coming into my office… telling me we shouldn’t do this. It was too dangerous. People would say, and this is just five years ago, that Bell was crazy and that we would be an isolated company,” Cope said.

“Some managers expressed concern that we wouldn’t be able to hold employees accountable because they would use mental health as an excuse for not performing.”

Cope said that now, five years later, the program has successfully started a national conversation that has helped reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Bell’s president also credited the program’s spokespeople, including Olympian Clara Hughes, for leading the charge and changing perceptions about mental health.

Speaking to CP24 Tuesday afternoon, Hughes said the money will go a long way to funding organizations that support hundreds of thousands of Canadians struggling with mental health issues.

“We are not creating new things. We are supporting what is there and allowing them to do a better job and to have more money to work with to basically reach more people in a better way,” she said.

In a tweet sent out by John Tory Tuesday, Toronto's mayor applauded Bell's long-term funding commitment to the program.

The next Bell Let’s Talk Day is set for January 27, 2016.

CP24 is a division of Bell Media.