The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) and four local branches of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) are pleased to announce their partnership in Talk Today, one of the most comprehensive mental health education programs for amateur sports in Canada. Talk Today, is aimed at helping the 300 players in the NOJHL, as well as the individuals that support them, to identify mental health issues and address suicide. Talk Today is a mandatory program for all 12 NOJHL clubs and will be delivered through partnerships with CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming, CMHA Muskoka-Parry Sound, CMHA Sault Ste. Marie and CMHA Sudbury-Manitoulin.
The Talk Today program consists of several components including mental health and suicide-awareness workshops, CMHA Mental Health Coaches, NOJHL Mental Health Champions and Talk Today community awareness events.
At the heart of Talk Today is the relationship between NOJHL clubs and their local CMHA branch. A CMHA Mental Health Coach will serve as a liaison for the team and be available to provide mental health resources, referrals to community mental health and addictions support or mental health crisis intervention services. The Mental Health Coach will work with a team’s Mental Health Champion, an individual within each NOJHL organization who can further serve as a resource for players regarding mental health issues and support.
“Mental health should no longer be a subject that is taboo around the rink,” NOJHL Commissioner Robert Mazzuca said. “Our partnership with CMHA branches in Northern Ontario aims to increase awareness about mental health issues and suicide, making our league a better and safer place for the players we support.”
This program is designed to have a positive impact on the players, as well as coaches, parents and members of the community. The participating CMHA branches, and especially the Mental Health Coaches, are eager to enter into this partnership with the NOJHL. The Mental Health Coaches are:
- Jeanne Messina, CMHA Sudbury-Manitoulin
- Lisa Carricato, CMHA Sault Ste. Marie
- Shane Tabobondung, CMHA Muskoka-Parry Sound
- Kelly Brunet, CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming (Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Timmins)
- Christine Toppi, CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming (Kirkland Lake)
Talk Today originally launched in October 2014 as a partnership between the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), CMHA Ontario and local CMHA branches. More than 400 OHL players received suicide-awareness training and teams held community awareness events to promote positive mental health last year.
About the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League:
The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) has been operating for more than 50 years and consists of 12 teams for the 2015-16 season. The NOJHL is a member of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, the Northern Ontario Hockey Association, the Ontario Hockey Federation and Hockey Canada. Among the more notable NOJHL alumni are Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Tony Esposito and former NHLers Steve Sullivan, Wayne Maki and Mike Zuke. Current Boston Bruins defenceman Colin Miller also played in the NOJHL.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario:
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) works toward a single mission: to make mental health possible for all. The vision of CMHA Ontario is a society that believes mental health is the key to well-being. CMHA Ontario works closely with 32 local branches in communities across the province to ensure the quality delivery of services in the areas of mental health, addictions, dual diagnosis and concurrent disorders. Through policy formulation, analysis and implementation, agenda setting, research, evaluation and knowledge exchange, we work to improve the lives of people with mental health and addictions conditions and their families.