To say the least, it’s been a tough week in the hockey community. Some have suffered substantial injuries. Some are mourning the loss of a loved one. A young talent is being mourned, and another is in the hospital while the echoes of frantic screams for medical care rings in teammates and fans ears alike.
We all see the goals, the fights, the penalties. We see these athletes perform as a team, with their success or failure falling on the group instead of the individual. What we don’t see is what happens off the ice. We hear rumors, but these tend to be largely unconfirmed. We don’t see the player forced to watch his team due to an inability to play. We don’t see the player struggling with substance addiction. We don’t see the player with PTSD who was never really quite right after that big hit. We don’t see the player that’s struggling with simply living his life.
We don’t see the people, players and fans alike, struggling with the same thing.
Thanks to efforts by Canadian phone company Bell, the #BellLetsTalk campaign raising money for mental health resources in Canada has had an impressive turnout with over $5.5 millions raised this year alone. While the program has had a phenomenal impact in starting the conversation about mental health, it’s reach stays focused in Canada, where only seven of the 30 NHL teams are.
Mental health isn’t a country-by-country issue. It’s universal.
In the United States, 1 in 10 adults suffers from depression, while only 1 in 17 are estimated to receive treatment. Despite the staggering numbers, the stigma still remains. Slurs that put down gender and sexuality are tossed around freely, making facing the disease even more tough with the social impacts.
We’re all touched by mental illness, whether we’re battling the disease or someone close to us has to join the fight. If the impact is so substantial, why is it still so taboo to discuss it?
No matter what you’re facing, you’re not alone. There are countless people who have had the same feeling as you. It’s the same cliché story that we’ve been told forever, but it’s absolutely true.
There are tough days, but there are also better days. There are times of relapse, but that makes the recovery so much sweeter.
The hockey community is comprised of players, fans and coaches alike and we’re all bound by a love for this amazing sport. That love that we all share gives us a deeper bond; turning this community into family.
No one should ever have to face these issues alone. Regardless of your race, your gender, your sexuality, we’re in this together. A family offers no judgment, only care and compassion.
If you’re struggling with depression or addiction, please reach out. There are countless resources willing to help you 24 hours a day, in addition to the friends and family that surround you every day, myself included.
This is your time.
Thanks for listening.