The Ontario Hockey League and Canadian Mental Health Association have announced their partnership in a program called Talk Today that will help combat mental health problems in the across the league.
The announcement was made at the Seaman Hockey Resource Centre located at the MasterCard Centre by OHL commissioner David Branch and CMHA Ontario chief executive Camille Quenneville.
The point of the program is to implement a plan on how to manage mental illness, including education and identifying mental health concerns.
It's also "to educate our players coaching staff and support staff to help them identify and deal with mental health issues," said Branch.
"We have to make players understand it's not a sign of weakness to come forward," he said.
Quenneville said the program will consist of four main goals to develop a support system for players:
- To have a mental health coach for each of the 20 teams in the league to provide supports for players, coaches, training staff, billet parents and others who may be associated with club.
- To provide training to players in the OHL about suicide alertness for everyone. There will be a comparable program for coaches and parents.
- "Mental Health Champions" associated with teams will provide ambassadors for mental heath to engage the public.
- Create an annual OHL mental health event hosted by the league.
She also pointed out signs to look for in players who may be struggling with depression or having suicidal thoughts:
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Changes in diet.
- Not engaging in life.
Branch noted that earlier this year, the league had to cope with the death of Toronto native Terry Trafford, 20.
The Saginaw Spirit player was found dead in an SUV at a Wal-Mart store parking lot in Saginaw Township of Michigan.
It was found he died by asphyxiation in what police believe was a suicide.