CMHA Ontario honours the Ontario Hockey League for leadership in mental health education and awareness
Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League, in association with the Canadian Mental Health Association, and Teachers Life, are proud to celebrate five full seasons of the Talk Today program.
Launched in October 2014, Talk Today provides mental health support to players and raises awareness about mental health and suicide throughout OHL communities.
Since its inception, Talk Today has made a sizable impact in the OHL with 1,070 players, and over 500 coaches, billets, and staff receiving mental health and suicide prevention training to date. The partnership has expanded to include a mental health awareness seminar as part of the OHL/OHF Under-15 Program of Excellence since April, 2015, and is in the third season of a partnership with all 60 teams across the Canadian Hockey League.
“Over the past five seasons the Talk Today program has had an extremely positive impact in OHL communities and has truly enhanced the playing environment for our student athletes,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch. “Nobody is immune to mental health challenges and we’re proud that our partnership with CMHA Ontario and Teachers Life continues to help encourage people of all ages to help end the stigma.”
A key piece of the Talk Today program has been to educate players about mental health and suicide. Players on all 20 OHL teams have received mental health training specific to suicide awareness called safeTALK. This training helps teach individuals the importance of talking about mental health, how to acknowledge signs of suicide, seek help when they’re in need of support, and connect others in need of support to suicide first aid resources.
“Eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health is the first step in helping people feel comfortable speaking openly about the challenges they may be facing,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “Thanks to our partnership with the Ontario Hockey League and Teachers Life, the Talk Today program continues to send the message to players, team staff and fans that it’s ok to ask for help.”
Another key initiative of the program has been community engagement in schools where OHL players, in conjunction with Teachers Life and their local CMHA Ontario Branches, have helped conduct in-class presentations communicating personal messages about mental health and stress management. Together they have reached close to 10,000 elementary students over the past three seasons including nearly 5,000 students in 2018-19 alone.
“The Owen Sound Attack have been leaders in promoting mental health in our community through the Talk Today program,” said Jackie Ralph, Youth Awareness Coordinator and Talk Today Mental Health Coach, CMHA Grey Bruce, speaking to the benefits of the partnership and in-school activations. “Through our partnership with Teachers Life, the CMHA and the Attack have been able to reach thousands of elementary school students by discussing mental health and connecting it with something kids enjoy, junior hockey.”
Raising awareness about the importance of mental health was at the forefront during the month of February where OHL clubs demonstrated their commitment to the program by hosting Talk Today games in partnership with their local CMHA Ontario Branches and presenting sponsor Teachers Life. The program was supported in all 20 OHL communities with concourse displays at select games, public address and video announcements in venue, and through social media campaigns using #TalkToday.
For more information please visit http://ontariohockeyleague.com/talktoday.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization funded by the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 30 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve approximately 500,000 Ontarians each year.
About Teachers Life:
Teachers Life is a not-for-profit federally regulated life-insurance company and North America’s largest educator-owned fraternal insurer. Founded in 1939, Teachers Life offers a full suite of personal insurance products to address the unique needs of the whole education community including educators, administrators, support staff and their families.
As part of its commitment to the community, Teachers Life proudly supports a number of mental health initiatives, including TalkToday and Ready for Life, a unique mental health resource for educators. For more information, please visit www.readyforlife.ca or www.teacherslife.com.