The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) officially partnered on May 24, 2016, expanding the mental health and suicide-awareness program Talk Today. CMHA Central Alberta Region is pleased to be working with the Red Deer Rebels for our first Talk Today event on Saturday, February 25, 2017.
The announcement, made at the CHL’s national championship tournament, the Memorial Cup, marks the first step towards linking each of the 60 major junior teams with the CMHA to ensure every player has access to mental health supports and resources. All 22 teams in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and the 18 teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) are participating to create a suicide-safe network within their respective leagues and clubs.
This mirrors the partnership between CMHA Ontario and the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), which completed its second season after being established in October 2014.
In just two years, CMHA Ontario branches and their local OHL teams have made a sizable impact. During that time, 670 players, 160 billets (members of local families that house players), and more than 85 coaches and front office staff have been trained in safeTALK, which teaches individuals the importance of mental health, how to recognize persons with thoughts of suicide and how to take action.
Additionally, eight coaches, 10 billets, three players and three office staff have taken ASIST, which teaches people how to recognize individuals who are at risk and intervene to keep individuals safe. Both safeTALK and ASIST are accredited training programs.
CMHA is expecting similar results from their partnership with the Western Hockey League and the Red Deer Rebels.
“This partnership just makes sense. CMHA-Central Alberta Region has already enjoyed a long standing supportive relationship with the Red Deer Rebels organization and we are now able to deepen that relationship in a very important way. Statistically we know that suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people ages 10-24 and that 70 percent of mental health problems first arise in childhood and adolescence. Hockey players are not immune to this and have the additional concerns of being away from home, sports injuries such as concussions, and the stress of playing at an elite level. We are thrilled we can be part of making this a safer and more supportive environment for all of the athletes, coaches, and parents,” said Trish McAllister-Hall, Executive Director/ of CMHA Central Alberta Region.