Kelowna Chiefs forward Myles Mattila, former Nelson Leafs general manager Sean Dooley and Leafs captain Jack Karran were surrounded by supportive teammates for a ceremonial puck drop in Nelson on Oct. 26. A new mental health program started by Mattila is being adopted by the KIJHL. Photo: Tyler Harper

Hockey league adopts B.C.-wide mental health program

MindRight will establish peer-to-peer support person for each team

Grant Sheridan hopes a new mental health program adopted by the KIJHL moves hockey away from a past he regrets having been part of.

The Kelowna Chiefs general manager was at the league’s meeting Sunday in Castlegar to pitch the MindRight initiative, which will establish peer-to-peer support ambassadors in locker rooms, as well as connections to community services for players, on all 20 teams in the league.

Sheridan said he thinks the program is a long time coming.

“I’m a little bit old school and unfortunately I come from the suck-it-up era, which is wrong,” he said.

“But I’ve had, in the last six months alone, three kids come to me with what I’d deem pretty serious issues,” he said.

“A lot of these kids won’t go to certain places because of age differential or fear. If three kids are prepared to come to me, there’s a lot more out there.”

MindRight was created three years ago by Chiefs forward Myles Mattila, who doubles as a mental health advocate.

Mattila’s work came about after a teammate confided in him that he was suffering. Mattila told his coach, who responded by cutting the player from the roster.

“I don’t think [the coach] really understood how serious that circumstance was,” said Mattila. “My friend needed some help, he needed someone to talk to, he needed to seek out some supports.”

Mattila said the goal of the program will be to create a culture that encourages discussion in locker rooms. A MindRight phone app is also being planned, which will allow more reticent players to seek out services on their own.

“What we’re trying to do is start this conversation and allow these hockey players to have a free and a safe environment to talk about mental health.”

The program is similar to Breakout, an initiative started by then Nelson Leafs assistant coach Sean Dooley in 2016, albeit bigger in scope.

Dooley, who has spoken previously about his struggles with addiction, thinks the peer-to-peer model will be successful in the locker room.

“It’s a little bit easier to talk to a friend or a peer than it would be to talk to someone in a position of authority, especially someone you are trying to impress,” he said.

“The last thing you want is to lose your position on the team because they don’t think you have what it takes mentally, and nine times out of 10 that’s not the case.”

Sheridan said he thinks MindRight will be especially important in smaller municipalities where access to mental health services might be limited.

“Even if we have a kid in Beaver Valley who has the same problems as a kid in Vancouver, he’s got to be able to talk to somebody comfortably on his team, which would hopefully be staff or this ambassador,” said Sheridan.

“From there that ambassador can hook him up with Myles… If it’s serious enough to get him to Myles, and Myles can get him to a life coach, he doesn’t have to be in Beaver Valley. But we don’t want to exclude that kid.”

Related:

Breakout launches with plenty of community support

Coming clean: Sean Dooley launches mental health program



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ladysmith council dropping paper agenda packages

Town expects to save 50,000 sheets of paper a year by using tablets

EDITORIAL: Housing is one of our basic needs

We all need food, clothing and shelter first

First Nations leader to try for NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, announces intentions

CVRD sets tax increase for 2019 at 7.27%

New water and housing functions make up 3.52 % of increase

Premier makes surprise visit to Ladysmith Art Gallery

John Horgan does an informal meet and greet with Ladysmith arts and community leaders

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher rates, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

B.C., feds accused of ‘environmental racism’ over Site C, Mount Polley

Amnesty International Canada says governments failed to recognize threats to Indigenous peoples

New Leger polls suggests federal Liberals lagging Conservatives

Overall, 31 per cent of respondents polled said they would vote for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals

Number of homeless deaths more than doubled in B.C. as opioid crisis set in

New data shows trend between more overdose deaths and the number of people dying in the street

Four people spat on in ‘random, unprovoked’ assaults: Vancouver police

Police ask additional victims to come forward after woman in a wheelchair spat on

Indian Day School students eligible for $10K apiece

Islanders included in settlement package reached with Canada’s federal government

Teen girl accused in plot to attack Kamloops school with weapons out on bail

Judge warned the girl she would be back in jail if she threatened to shoot anyone

Most Read