Talk Today, the mental health initiative program designed to assist amateur sports teams and their players across Canada, originated in 2014 courtesy the Ontario sector of the Canadian Mental Health Association. And since 2015, the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League has been active as a partner with the initiative that is part of Bell Let’s Talk, a wide-reaching program designed to break the silence around mental illness and to support mental health all across Canada.
With the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day slated for this Wednesday (January 31), NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca told Hockey News North that “our entire league could not be more committed in our dedicated and worthwhile support of the Bell Let’s Talk initiative.”
But it is not just about the one day, stressed Mazzuca.
“We continue to work closely with the Canadian Mental Health Association as they offer each of our member clubs, our players, staffs and anyone else associated with the NOJHL to provide assistance to anyone who may be dealing with mental health issues.
“We strongly believe mental health is no longer a subject that is taboo around the rink and there are people out there who are here to help,” Mazzuca continued.
Mazzuca said the desired result is “making the NOJHL a better and safer place for all those we support. Our partnership with CMHA branches across northern Ontario helps provide an increased awareness about mental health issues and suicide.”
As Mazzuca also pointed out, Talk Today is a mandatory program for all 12 NOJHL teams and is delivered through partnerships with four CMHA branches.
The Talk Today program consists of several components including mental health and suicide-awareness workshops, CMHA mental health coaches, NOJHL mental health champions and various community awareness events.