September 29, 2020 – The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) has partnered with the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) and regions of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in Alberta, to bring CMHA’s Talk Today program to AJHL teams. This partnership is presented by Inter Pipeline.
The introduction of Talk Today, one of the most comprehensive sport-related mental health programs in Canada, means that all 360 players throughout the 15-team AJHL will benefit from mental health awareness and suicide-prevention training this season.
Elite athletes face immense pressures, including balancing academic demands and performing in their chosen sport. Talk Today was designed to promote the mental health of these young athletes and to spread awareness about the benefits of positive mental health.
“Through our partnership with CMHAs in Alberta and the support of Inter Pipeline, we are committed to providing mental health resources to our athletes and to destigmatize the negative connotations associated with seeking help,” stated AJHL Commissioner Ryan Bartoshyk.
“CMHA Alberta Division and local CMHA regions are thrilled to be working with the AJHL to bring mental health awareness and suicide prevention training to young athletes across the province,” said CMHA Alberta Division Executive Director David Grauwiler. “Talk Today has already had great success in other junior hockey leagues across the country, and we look forward to equipping AJHL players with tools that support mental wellness.”
Key components of the Talk Today program include workshops, community programs, and a partnership between the AJHL team and CMHA Wood Buffalo.
Mental Health Coaches – A CMHA Mental Health Coach acts as a direct link to a team participating in Talk Today. This relationship allows for greater knowledge of and access to community mental health and addictions resources.
Mental Health / Suicide Prevention Workshops – Talk Today offers participants standardized, certified and evidence-based mental health and suicide-awareness workshops.
Mental Health Champions – Talk Today actively encourages at least one person within a participating sport organization to become a Mental Health Champion. This person is a positive force of mental health within their team.
Talk Today Events / Games – Elite athletes and sports organizations are positive role models within their communities and can help destigmatize mental health issues. Participating teams and CMHA regions will host a Talk Today game-day event to raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. Further details regarding the events will be announced by the host teams throughout the 2020-21 AJHL season.
Originally launched in 2014, Talk Today has grown into a national mental health initiative and now includes more than 50 CMHA provincial divisions and community branches/regions across Canada supporting junior hockey teams, post-secondary sports programs, minor sports organizations, and more. Since the program’s inception, more than 5,000 participants have received mental health awareness and suicide prevention training.
CMHA’s Talk Today program is being delivered across the AJHL with the support of the NHL Foundation and Fifth Line Foundation.