The Ottawa Senators Foundation, Do It For Daron campaign and The Royal mental health centre officially launched their new "Be Game Ready" app Tuesday to help young athletes manage their mental health.
The free, bilingual app is designed to help children age 10 to 16 deal with stress, anxiety and other mental health issues before and after games.
Users can track their moods and get tips on how to manage their feelings, learn breathing exercises and meditation and send "power pucks" of encouragement to teammates who have done a good job.
"It's something that fosters positive mental health, it doesn't just simply happen," said Nicole Loreto with The Royal.
"Particularly with athletes they face a lot of challenges and stress in addition to going to school, dealing with friends and family. This is something that actually helps them work [on] some of those issues on and off the ice."
Trial run with Ottawa teams
Players on Ottawa's peewee Nepean Raiders team said they've been trying out the app for about a week and it's been helping.
"Our coaches try to make us physically tough and this app can make us mentally tough so it can balance out that way," said defenceman Marco Peluso.
"I've been using the breathing exercises to calm you down and to get rid of all the stress… and there's this one called the gong meditation, it plays gong music and it relaxes your muscles."
Chloe Shepherd of the Nepean Wildcats hadn't tried the app yet, but said she liked what she heard at the launch.
"There are a lot of teams in our league that are really good and I know the competition is hard so when I know we're going to play against one of those teams it kind of stresses me out because I want to play well and impress my coaches and my friends," she said.
"[With the app] if i'm nervous to talk to other people about it, I can tell my phone and nobody really needs to know about it."
While the app uses some hockey terminology, its developers say it can be useful for all young athletes along with their parents and coaches.
Hopeful it's habit-forming
"Make it something that they're learning skills about self-awareness and checking their mental state, as well as in sports their physical state, but combining it with a little bit of fun," said Luke Richardson, a former Senators player who's currently the head coach of the minor-league Binghamton Senators.
"It's a good way to communicate… to make sure everyone is on the same wavelength and everybody's doing well."
"I think when we would have grown up it would have been your yearly checkup with your physician [to see] how are you feeling," Stephanie Richardson said.
"If we can get the kids to do it daily... they're going to be healthier adults."
Stephanie Richardson said the Senators Foundation has sent information about the app to every other NHL team.
She said everyone playing in the Bell Capital Cup hockey tournament at the end of the month in Ottawa will get a card promoting the app and it will be featured at the World Women's Under-18 Hockey Championship in St. Catharines, Ont. in January.