A one-of-a-kind partnership will see 180 varsity athletes, coaches, trainers and athletic staff at Sault College receive mental health and suicide awareness training this season. All Sault College Cougars are taking part in Talk Today, one of the most comprehensive mental health programs for athletes in Canada, courtesy of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Sault Ste. Marie.
This is the first time Talk Today, which began in 2014, has been used in a post-secondary school environment.
“Thanks to Talk Today and our strong partnership with CMHA, our student athletes are better prepared to support their teammates and other peers,” said Matt Trainor, Director of Student Services, Sault College. “They are now trained to ask the right questions when they witness signs of suicidal thoughts. Our students have a great support network across the campus where they can access help in a number of different ways to suit their needs.”
Student athletes and those in their support network at the college are receiving training in safeTALK, a three-hour accredited session that teaches individuals the importance of mental health and how to recognize persons with thoughts of suicide. ASIST, a two-day program that teaches participants how to identify those at risk and how to intervene, is being offered in October.
This training is provided by CMHA Sault Ste. Marie, which has extensive experience working with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and four teams in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“I’m thrilled the entire Sault College Athletics Department has joined the Talk Today family,” said Lisa Carricato, Mental Health Coach, CMHA Sault Ste. Marie. “Sault College has a longstanding partnership with CMHA Sault Ste. Marie and this is a great example of the importance that they put on the mental health needs of students. I’m looking forward to a great season working with the Sault College Cougars.”
Sault College has also identified Michelle Morely, Athletics Officer in the Athletics Department as the Mental Health Champion. Morely will serve as the main contact for the CMHA Mental Health Coach and who athletes can turn to help navigate the local mental health system if they’re struggling.