REGINA, Sask. – The Fifth Line Foundation has joined forces with the National Hockey League (NHL) Foundation and together will commit more than $1.2 million to make a leading mental health awareness and suicide prevention program available to all Jr. A hockey players in Canada.
The support allows the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) to further implement Talk Today, a comprehensive sport-related mental health program delivered in partnership with local offices of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).
CMHA’s Talk Today program launched in parts of the CJHL with support from the NHL Foundation in the 2019-20 season and reached more than 515 players in its inaugural year.
The new financial support from The Fifth Line Foundation extends the availability of Talk Today for up to seven seasons – at no cost – to thousands of Jr. A players across approximately 130 CJHL teams.
“The Fifth Line Foundation recognizes that the world of junior hockey is a small one, with players moving from team to team and league to league. It can be a stressful environment at the best of times and the current pandemic has added another layer to that,” said Bill Chow, Fifth Line Foundation board member and president of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
“The foundation is extremely fortunate that we have the means to support the Talk Today program, and we feel this is an important legacy to commemorate those impacted by the Humboldt tragedy.”
The Fifth Line Foundation manages the unprecedented public outpouring of donations made to the SJHL Assistance Program following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in 2018.
One of the foundation’s goals has been to provide mental health help to players across the SJHL.
But the foundation believes partnering with the NHL Foundation, the CJHL and local CMHAs is an appropriate step to broaden the support for young athletes nationwide.
Elite athletes face immense pressures, including balancing academic demands and performing in their chosen sport.
CMHA’s Talk Today program promotes the mental health of these young athletes, educates them about suicide prevention and spreads awareness into communities about the benefits of mental wellness.
Originally launched in 2014, Talk Today has grown to include more than 50 CMHAs across Canada supporting junior hockey teams, post-secondary sports programs, minor sports organizations, and more.
Since the program’s inception, more than 5,000 participants have received mental health awareness and suicide prevention training.
“The Talk Today program has already made a positive impact on thousands of people in the hockey community and beyond, and the NHL Foundation is proud to bring this program to CJHL clubs alongside The Fifth Line Foundation,” said NHL Foundation manager John Sanful.
“Talk Today provides young athletes with valuable life skills that they’ll be able to use not only in the high-stress environment of elite competition, but in all walks of life beyond junior hockey.”
“We’re very humbled by and grateful for this incredible show of support from The Fifth Line Foundation and the NHL Foundation to ensure the Talk Today program reaches Jr. A hockey players from coast to coast, including right here in the SJHL,” said Phyllis O’Connor, executive director of CMHA Saskatchewan. “Through Talk Today, we’re creating awareness about the benefits of positive mental health, reducing stigma and saving lives.”
“The CJHL is pleased to partner in this Talk Today collaboration, which supports our athletes both on and off the ice,” said CJHL president Brent Ladds. “The enthusiasm and buy-in we’re getting from across the CJHL to participate in Talk Today shows how important the issue of mental wellness is to our clubs, staff and players.”
For more information about the Talk Today program, visit www.talktoday.ca.
• Talk Today launched its inaugural season with the CJHL in 2019-20 and worked with 24 teams across four leagues (the Central Canada Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League, Maritime Junior Hockey League and Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League).
• The SJHL and Alberta Junior Hockey League are participating in Talk Today in the 2020-21 season.
• During the CJHL’s first Talk Today game-day month in November 2019, #TalkToday reached 175,000 users on Twitter and earned 1.1 million total impressions.