NHL part of effort
to remove stigma
The National Hockey League will drop the puck tonight on an initiative in which everyone comes out a winner.
The league's seven Canadian teams are launching the Hockey Talks program as part of an effort to create a national dialogue about mental health and wellness.
The Canadian teams - Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets - are lending their support to the month-long campaign by dedicating a game night in each city to Hockey Talks. The aim is to spotlight the issue of mental health with an eye toward getting rid of the stigma that still surrounds the topic.
The program will incorporate the Bell "Let's Talk" mental health initiative which will be featured during Hockey Talks game nights. The initiative is a five-year, $50-million charitable program based on four action pillars: anti-stigma, care and access, research, and workplace best practices.
Coincidentally, in mid-January, the Canadian Mental Health Association praised the implementation of the country's first national workplace standard for mental health promotion and protection. Called "The National Standard of Canada: Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace - Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation," the policy was developed to help employers develop "psychologically safe and healthy work environments for their employees."
The CMHA views the new standard as a positive step for Canadian workers.
"While voluntary, employers will quickly realize its value in maintaining and improving mental health and preventing harm for all people in the workplace, whether or not they have had a mental illness," Peter Coleridge, the CMHA's national CEO, said in a news release. "The standard provides employers with a framework on how to foster psychologically safe and healthy work environments in which all workers can flourish.
"Greater emphasis and awareness in the area of psychological health and safety and better employee support will also help to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with having a mental illness in the workplace."
These new efforts should help in removing the stigma that remains such a huge barrier to those struggling with mental health issues in their quest for help. People aren't likely to reach out for assistance if they feel they are somehow defective, or will be viewed as such by others. And when people don't reach out and are left to wrestle with their problems alone, the problems are exacerbated, and that's when those in need of help start down the road that, at its worst, can lead to tragic outcomes like suicide.
The NHL has been touched by such tragedy in recent years. That's why the NHL's support for this mental health initiative is not only welcome, but fitting.
If the Hockey Talks and Bell "Let's Talk" initiative can get people talking openly about mental health, perhaps it can be pulled out of the shadows and into the light of open public discussion where greater understanding of the issue can develop. That's how the stigma can be erased. Once that is accomplished, people can feel free to seek help when mental health problems arise.
And we'll all be winners.
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