Photo: Twitter Chiefs fans stand to support off ice issues.

Kelowna Chiefs GM addresses mental health in junior hockey

The Chiefs partner up with local mental health program MindRight

The sporting world can offer its ups and downs.

NHLer Daniel Carcillo made that clear this week when he spoke out about his experiences in junior hockey with alleged hazing and the problems it ignited.

Over the past decade or so, the stigma surrounding mental health in the sporting world has been hacked away by calls for attention and more education. Hazing has been heavily monitored and banned by Hockey Canada. In Kelowna, it’s also being taken seriously.

RELATED: UPDATE: West Kelowna man wins Canucks 50/50 prize: “I can’t believe this”

Kelowna Chiefs general manager, Grant Sheridan, has partnered his organization up with MindRight.info, an information and mental health support resource for youth hockey players founded by Kelowna local and Chiefs hockey player, Myles Mattila.

“Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have known what to do to help, but now we can. We’ve got to help (the players) so they can feel comfortable to reach out knowing there are resources to help them,” said Sheridan.

“As an organization, we want to eliminate the negative aspects of mental health and focus on the positives. (The positives) are that there are programs like MindRight, and people like Myles, that are (helping) young players.”

With that, the Chiefs and MindRight are pairing up to host four Mental Health Awareness games that will be held throughout the Chiefs’ hockey season, with the first being Saturday. The games will recognize incredible locals who make, or have made, a positive impact on mental health in their communities. Candace Giesbrecht will be the first to be awarded the Mental Health Community Star at the Dec. 1 Chiefs game. Giesbrecht spent six years with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Kelowna and helped Mattilia establish himself as a youth mental health advocate in the community.

Mattila, a former hockey player, founded MindRight after his experiences of watching a friend and teammate struggle with mental health.

“He wasn’t himself — he isolated himself and wasn’t being a team player, but he was always smiling. After I spoke to him about it, I thought it would be a good idea to tell our coach, but our coach didn’t know what to do help, so he kicked him off the team,” said Mattila. “I saw things happening in hockey and I wanted to help. MindRight can help players with reliable resources, and it creates platforms that help players no matter where they are, Kelowna to 100 Mile House.”

RELATED: West Kelowna Warriors earn well-fought win without coach

For Sheridan, support for youth mental health will also help in the discussion with hazing, particularly now with the emergence of social media.

“Gone are the days that (hazing) is acceptable. Our organization, as well as the league, does not accept it, it’s banned. But with social media, it can be quite serious and hard to catch as its done more in private,” said Sheridan.

“It means there are issues that people don’t know about (affecting the young players) that do exist, and they need to be addressed. The goal is to get discussions happening (about mental health and potential hazing) before the serious things happen.”

Mattila and MindRight have added the Peer to Peer Support Program to help provide support and do even more for youth mental health. This initiative focuses on raising initial awareness, sourcing and co-ordinating an additional resource team, and helping youth access existing support associations within the community.

“The Peer to Peer program can be available for anything. Players can get quick answers on mental health, can have people accompany them if or when they seek any type of medical opinions, and it can hopefully give players confidence to talk about mental health and seek help if need be,” said Mattila.

Currently, MindRight uses hockey as one example and a common place where it has access to a large number of players as it continually tries to demonstrate that it is OK to ask for help. MindRight believe that, when dealing with mental health challenges, early intervention is crucial and can be accomplished with P2P, according to its website.

“We had two mental health games last year, and have four this year,” said Sheridan. “I feel the peer to peer program will be a good platform for players to simply have someone to talk to, no matter their age. It could be a good platform for a league with 23 teams.”

Currently, MindRight is supporting the Kelowna Chiefs but Sheridan said the entire league is looking to implement the programs that could not only help the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, but larger leagues as well.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lakestone community unveiled in Lake Country

Mayor Baker, MLA Norm Letnick and MP Stephen Fuhr joined in the ceremonial opening

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Summer sun for Sunday

The forecast for the week ahead shows some rain but plenty of sun and warm tempertures.

Update: Structure fire reported in Kelowna industrial area put out

A structure fire was reported just after 3:30 p.m. off Sexsmith Road

Kelowna e-scooter company foils downtown robberies

OGO Scooters staff helped return stolen property three times in 1st week of operations

July showers wash out half of the Okanagan’s cherry crop

Cherry growers say this is the worst season they’ve seen in decades

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Water quality makes swimming unsafe at three beaches near Salmon Arm

The Adams Lake Indian Band has issued a water qulity notice affecting beaches at three campgrounds.

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Second osprey chick dies, Okanagan web cam off

The second chick in an osprey nest featured on the Town of Osoyoos website has died

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

Fire department helps with body recovery in Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

Police on scene at Penticton beach

RCMP were at a what is believed to be a crime scene near Skaha Beach Sunday

Most Read