Okanagan Rockets forward Myles Mattila takes the pledge for mental health.

BCHL partners with Canadian Mental Health Association

Partnership between CMHL and junior hockey league will help players with mental illness

The Canadian Mental Health Association and British Columbia Hockey League have teamed up to combat mental illness.

The two organizations launched the partnership, titled ‘Talk Today,’ in November.  Talk Today is based off a model that was used in a partnership between the CMHA and Ontario Hockey League last year, and it has four main agreements.

The first agreement is that if teams are concerned about the mental health of a player, CMHA guarantees to talk to them just like they would for anyone else.  Secondly, teams will provide CMHA with the opportunity to liase with players with the goal of every team eventually having its own mental health ambassador.  The agreement will also provide a game event for CMHA and mental health where they can talk about mental health at the arena on game day, fundraise for mental health, and other activities.  The final agreement is the one Director of Community Engagement and Fundraising for CMHA Kelowna Candace Giesbrecht is most excited about.

“The fourth part is training, and the training happens in two parts,” Giesbrecht explained.  “One with the players, and one with the families and billet families.  We’ll just talk to them about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and when they should be worried.  What’s the difference between the normal ups and downs of life and being a teenager, and when is it something to be worried about?  And then how do you have a conversation and open that up.  It doesn’t train people to be councillors, but just to be able to recognize and understand that sometimes something as simple as a conversation can open the door to people getting the help they need.”

Myles Mattila is a forward for the Okanagan Rockets of the British Columbia Major Midget League and has been an advocate for mental health awareness in sports, particularly hockey, for several years.  Mattila believes this new partnership will be fantastic for everyone involved, especially the players.

“I think it’s great for hockey players because there is a lot of stress for players, coaches and parents,” he described.  “Getting traded from BC to Quebec, for example, and the other person has to come from Quebec to the BCHL can be difficult.  I think it’s great when someone from across Canada gets to come to the BCHL and can rely on something like Talk Today, because it can be difficult for players to get used to new teams and new billet families.  I think it’s great to have something like Talk Today.”

Mattila noted it also gives players the opportunity to open up about mental illness and to learn to recognize the signs in teammates that they may be struggling with it.  Although Talk Today was just recently launched, CMHA Kelowna has already met with the coach and chaplain for their local BCHL team, the West Kelowna Warriors to begin working on the four aspects of the agreement.

In addition to Talk Today, CMHA is also asking people to take a pledge for mental health.

“We’re taking it city wide, and the pledge is very simple,” Giesbrecht said.  “We’re asking people to get loud with their voices, get loud with their time, get loud with their resources and to break the silence that’s associated with mental illness.  Our goal in the coming year is that every citizen in our community has at least one opportunity to sign the pledge.  By taking the pledge you’re saying, ‘If I’m struggling I’ll talk to somebody for help, if I see somebody struggling I’ll reach out to them and I’ll promise to get loud.'”

Giesbrecht added their goal is to have 13,000 people sign the pledge, which would be approximately half the number of people in Kelowna that will experience mental illness this year.


Just Posted

Getting into the swing of spring

Kelowna garden shop is busy now that spring has finally arrived

Axe the tax says Kelowna city council

City says it wants B.C.’s Speculation Tax dumped because it could have a significant impact here

Murder charges upgraded for Kelowna man accused of killing wife and daughters

Crown approved new information on Jacob Forman’s file

Kelowna council ‘dumps’ Diamond Mountain development proposal

Location near city’s landfill prompts council to refuse to approve area structure plan for the land

Lake Country brain injury service expanding

CONNECT Communities is expanding to Hamilton, Ontario

Rainy week ahead for Okanagan and Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecast rain for the next three days, starting Tuesday afternoon

Familiar faces return for writer’s fest

Some of the best return to Word on the Lake in Salmon Arm

Viewer Photos: First day of Spring around British Columbia

Our loyal viewers sent us some of their favourite Spring photos from all corners of the province

Five Canadian kids charged with making school threats

Police say online threats are on the rise

Not even Ellen DeGeneres can get Virtue, Moir to say they’re more than friends

Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday

RCMP warn public to stop pouring gas on fires after three incidents

Police responded to three recent incidents that sent seven people to hospital

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Elke’s Garden Tips: To prune or not to prune

Lake Country garden coach talks pruning in her weekly column

BCHL Today: Surrey Eagles in the driver’s seat and Ethan Martini takes a seat

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read