Talk Today pilot provides mental health, suicide prevention training for student athletes at Kenora Catholic District School Board
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kenora Branch and Kenora Catholic District School Board (KCDSB) have joined forces on a pilot project to provide 75 high school student athletes with suicide prevention and mental health awareness training. The first initiative of its kind in Ontario, the project aims to create an open and non-judgmental environment where student athletes who may be struggling with mental health issues feel comfortable and confident seeking help. The pilot is based on CMHA’s successful Talk Today program. Talk Today is one of the most comprehensive mental health education programs for amateur sports in Canada. It is currently in use by several junior hockey leagues throughout the country.
The pilot, geared for student athletes 16 years or older, consists of several components from Talk Today which have been tailored to suit the KCDSB, including:
- Mental health and suicide awareness workshops for students and team coaches delivered by CMHA experts. The workshops teach participants how to identify individuals who have thoughts of suicide and how to connect that person to suicide first aid or intervention caregivers.
- KCDSB staff who coach athletic teams will assume roles known as Mental Health Champions. Student athletes will know that, should they be experiencing a mental health issue, they can approach their Mental Health Champion for non-judgmental, stigma-free support.
- KCDSB staff in the guidance office will act as Mental Health Coaches. These individuals will also build supportive relationships with the teams and act as conduits to mental health resources currently made available by the board.
- Joint CMHA Kenora/KCDSB Talk Today events to break down stigma and increase awareness about the importance of positive mental health.
NOTE: Interview and photo opportunities with students, CMHA and KCDSB representatives will take place today at 11 a.m. in the Idea Lab in the Catholic Education Centre, 1292 Heenan Place, Kenora, ON, P9N 2Y8.
“The Talk Today program was developed to surround young people with the support they need to thrive during this stressful time in their lives,” said Sara Dias, Executive Director of CMHA Kenora. “Like CPR, this program teaches participants valuable life skills they can take with them beyond the arena, playing field or high school.”
“Partnering with the Canadian Mental Health Association to offer the Talk Today program at our high school was a natural fit for us,” said Sue Devlin, Mental Health Lead of the KCDSB. “The program is quite comprehensive with a multi-strategy approach. The program allows us to provide wrap around supports for our student athletes and create mental health champions in the school. It’s another valuable tool in our mental health strategy for the board.”
“We are excited about launching the Talk Today program with our student athletes,” said Travis Batters, Athletic Director for St. Thomas Aquinas High School. “Today’s students are juggling multiple priorities such as achieving high academic results, strong performance on multiple sporting teams and part time jobs. The Talk Today program puts supports in place for the right students at the right time.”
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.
- 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence.
- As few as one in four children or youth who experience a mental health problem or illness report that they have sought and received services and treatment.
- Suicide remains the second leading cause of death of young people between the ages 10 and 24.