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CHL and CMHA partner to launch mental health program

May 24, 2016

CHL and CMHA logosThe Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) have announced an expanded partnership with the launch of Talk Today.

Talk Today is a proven mental health education program that will help players and team staff identify and deal with mental health issues. It will be implemented by all 60 CHL teams for the 2016-17 season.

“Mental illness directly or indirectly affects everyone at some point in their life,” said CHL President David Branch. “We are pleased to partner with Canadian Mental Health Association with our program Talk Today to further enhance the playing environment for our student athletes.”

Talk Today has been in place in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) since October 2014. CMHA Ontario branches and their local OHL teams have made a sizable impact: 670 players, 160 billets, and more than 85 coaches and front office staff have received mental health and suicide-prevention training to date.

“Young people can face tremendous stress and pressure and become susceptible to mental health challenges just like everyone else. Talk Today will provide education about mental health and suicide and encourage players and team staff to speak openly about these serious issues,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario.

CMHA will assign a Mental Health Coach for each team. This is a person players and team staff can contact when needing help with any mental health issue. In turn, the Mental Health Coach will help connect those in need to appropriate community supports and resources. Each team will designate a Mental Health Champion, the first point of contact within the organization and someone who can communicate regularly with the CMHA Mental Health Coach.

Talk Today also includes a commitment for CHL teams to host one awareness game to help destigmatize mental health issues. This season, those OHL games were held in February and roughly 80,000 fans attended to hear and receive positive messages about mental health. Nearly 3 million people were reached on social media as well using the hashtag #TalkToday.

Talk Today helps address an important concern of which hockey players are not immune. The number of 12- to 19-year-olds at risk for depression is a staggering 3.2 million. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24. And 70 per cent of mental health problems are onset during childhood or adolescence.

The CHL, which includes the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), Western Hockey League (WHL) and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) work hard to continually review, refine and improve their individual/unique player experiences, the hallmark of which is each league’s comprehensive post-secondary scholarship and education program.  Our world class player experience also includes the highest calibre coaching and training facilities, extensive health and safety initiatives, anti-doping, out-of-pocket expense reimbursement, equipment, billeting and travel costs, and mentoring programs that support our players whether they continue to their hockey career at the professional level or pursue their education at a post-secondary institution of their choice.

Components of Talk Today

  1. Mental Health Trainings for Players and Support Staff

All players receive an accredited training program that teaches individuals to recognize persons with thoughts of suicide and learn how to connect a person who has thoughts of suicide to a caregiver for intervention.

Advanced training is available to coaches, team staff and parents who provide support to the players. The key to suicide prevention are trained caregivers who are ready, willing and able to get involved with each individual at risk. By offering this training, CMHA is helping establish that vital support network.

  1. Canadian Mental Health Association Mental Health Coach

The CMHA assigns a Mental Health Coach to each team to provide community mental health resources and supports for the players as well as the people that surround them.

  1. Mental Health Champions

Each team appoints a local Mental Health Champion who acts as a team advocate on mental health issues and helps players connect with their local CMHA Mental Health Coach should the player be in need of support.

  1. Talk Today Game Day Events

Each team uses a home game as a Talk Today event to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. In 2015-2016 season, 20 OHL teams hosted game day events in conjunction with local CMHA branches reaching approximately 80,000 fans attending games and another 2.8 million on social media using the hashtag #TalkToday.

Youth Mental Health Statistics:

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 10-24
  • 70 per cent of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence
  • The number of 12 to 19 year olds at risk for depression is 3.2 million.
  • Almost 1 in 5 young people live with mental disorders
  • 75% of mental disorders develop by age 24

For more information:

Paul Krotz
Director, Communications
Canadian / Ontario Hockey League

Joe Kim
Director, Communications
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

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