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

Nelson Leafs

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Join Brenda Gardiner for an adventure in Peru and Bolivia in next Lawnchair Travel flight

Gardiner will share highlights from her recent trip Monday, Feb. 24 at the Bouchie Lake Hall

Quesnel RCMP still searching for Darryl Leblanc Jr.

Leblanc was last seen Dec. 30, 2019, and police are asking for the public’s help in locating him

Quesnel Council agrees to tax shift that gives light industry a break

The shift means residences will see a tax increase of about $3 per $100,000 each year

Quesnel Lightning strike in Kelowna

Three teams from the local ringette club competed at the Sweetheart Tournament in Kelowna Feb. 7-9

Quesnel council proposing 6.7-per-cent tax increase for 2020

Tax increase reflects added RCMP and bylaw resources, plus new snow levy

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

Man, 40, killed in hit and run in Fort St. James

One person is dead in a hit and run case that is… Continue reading

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Most Read