New Brunswick

Maritime hockey players to get mental health awareness, suicide-prevention training

Players in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League will now receive mental health awareness and suicide-prevention training after the league partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

More than 280 players on the 12 Maritime Junior A Hockey League teams will receive the training

The Fredericton Red Wings are just one of the teams to receive the training. (Submitted/Brian Smith)

Players in the Maritime Junior 'A' Hockey League will now receive mental health awareness and suicide-prevention training after the league partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

"People are making everybody aware that sometimes there's problems and sometimes we need to talk about it," said Sandy McCarthy, former NHL hockey player and assistant coach of the Campbellton Tigers.

"You can't just fix everything on your own. That's just not how it works all the time. Nobody's really that strong that they can just fix it all by themselves."

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 and 34, according to Statistics Canada.

More than 280 players, ages 16 to 20, from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will receive the training through a program called Talk Today, which was created in 2014.

All 12 teams will receive the training, with funding donated by the NHL Foundation.

The three-hour workshop teaches players how to recognize if a teammate, classmate, friend or family member is struggling.

The program also assigns a designated mental health coach to each team who can provide information and support to players who have a mental health issue.

"As a coach, I like to communicate with all my players and I think it's important — that's the only way that you're going to be able to understand when your kids are having a good day or a bad day, or when they're really struggling," McCarthy said.

Ross Gorman, the representative with the Canadian Mental Health Association for the Fredericton Red Wing's, said young players are facing the pressures of playing hockey, finishing high school or starting university, living away from home, and even the pressure to go professional.

The Fredericton Red Wings are looking to help players with their mental health needs. The team is partnering with the Canadian Mental Health Association and Red Wing's Billet Coordinator Ross Gorman says it will help players get in touch with their feelings and emotions. 12:38

"All those factors thrown into the mix and certainly there's a recipe for increased chances of having some issues that they need to deal with," Gorman said.

He said he's happy to know that by providing the training now, the players can take that knowledge with them as they get older.

"We, as an organization, have done our part in mitigating that down and educating them and providing them with another tool in their toolbox to go on throughout life," he said. 

"They are role models within the community both now and down the road and people will look up to them and their friends will look up to them, so if we've given them that little extra piece of knowledge, then it's all good."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton, Information Morning Moncton

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