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Mental health programs to support young athletes continue to grow


The NHL Players Association’s new First Line program encourages players to prioritize their mental health and access resources to help enhance their well-being.

“I think the key to this whole thing is, once we get pro athletes to open up about it, it’s a lot easier for other people to do it as well,” said former NHL general manager Brian Burke, who is now the PWHL Player’s Association executive director.

In 2018, Rugby Nova Scotia launched a proactive mental health campaign.

“It was called, ‘If you talk, I will listen’,” said Rugby N.S. performance coach Emma DeLory, who added the program was designed to support athletes on and off the field who face issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. “What we did for the awareness campaign was, we had bracelets and hats with the logo and hat and wording on it.”

The objective was simple: increase awareness and dialogue about mental health within the community.

“Because we knew that it was something that was super important to all of our athletes and to our coaches,” said DeLory.

Dalhousie University’s Athletics and Recreation executive Tim Maloney said the mental health of 1,500 varsity and club sport athletes combined at Dalhousie is a top priority.

“I think the most important thing over the last 10 years that I’ve noticed, there is dialogue about the issue of mental health,” said Maloney.

According to Maloney, that dialogue and awareness has created a foundation of support for all who attend the university. Coaches and staff receive specialized training.

“We are often the first line that student athletes will go to for help,” said Maloney. “Being able to recognize those signs, symptoms and understanding the resources available to assist is certainly important.”

Most athletes have busy lives and both Delory and Maloney said providing safe and supportive spaces for young people to talk is crucial. Top Stories

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