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

Sushi, sake and silk kimono

“The Kimono of Ichimaru” opening night at Fernie Museum attracts sellout crowd

Mexico-bound Tour Divide riders complete first day, pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody, 6 months since release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

New society to spearhead ramp building project in Fernie

Gracie Lou Foundation launches to make Fernie more inclusive; ramp building event slated for June 22

GALLERY: Week-long Coal Miner Days a huge success

Skate jam set to become a permanent fixture of Coal Miner Days; other events well attended

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Elk Valley Bulls RFC reclaim Kootenay Cup

Elk Valley beats Cranbrook 7-5 to win Kootenay Cup; team off to provincials in September

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read