It is well known that players in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) need to be in peak physical condition, but what is less appreciated is the importance of their mental health. OHL players are under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure to succeed and to be the best. So, it’s not surprising that young hockey players, like anyone else in the community, may struggle with their mental health. To bring the issue of athletes’ mental health to the forefront, the Guelph Storm and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Waterloo Wellington Dufferin Branch hosted their inaugural Talk Today event at the Sleeman Centre home game last week.
The game featured an information booth about Here 24/7, the local gateway to mental health, addictions and crisis services across the region, as well as public address announcements about Talk Today and local mental health services. In addition to raising awareness about mental health, the event was also meant to celebrate the success of the program to date.
Since the Talk Today program was launched in October 2014, more than 30 players and other members of the Guelph Storm community have completed mental health training sessions. A smaller number have also taken intensive courses on how to de-escalate a situation where self-harm may be possible. Meanwhile, across the OHL, approximately 400 players on 20 teams have completed similar mental health training.
The Storm head coach Todd Harvey told CTV News Kitchener that Talk Today has“changed the team dynamic on and off the ice,” adding that it has, “helped the players to be more open about their thoughts and feelings and be able to express them.”
For more information about CMHA WWD, visit their website.