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Since Talk Today’s introduction to the CJHL in September 2019, a total of 29 teams across the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Northern Ontario Hockey League (NOJHL), Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL), and Maritime Hockey League (MHL) have received suicide prevention training. This includes suicide-prevention training for 621 players, 10 coaches, four trainers, 15 billets, and three additional team staff members.


Additionally, despite significant challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Talk Today successfully expanded into the AJHL and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) in 2020. Public health restrictions prohibited in-person suicide-prevention training in the AJHL and SJHL but the leagues and its teams were able to develop relationships with local offices of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Because of this relationship-building, CMHAs in Alberta and Saskatchewan were able to support player safety and wellbeing in other ways.  

Talk Today results over two seasons

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Talk Today and the Pandemic: 2020-21 Season

Just as it has affected everything else, COVID-19 has presented significant challenges throughout the CJHL and severely impacted the implementation of the Talk Today program. In an ordinary year, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) staff at both Ontario Division and branches across the country would have been busy working with leagues in the CJHL, servicing over 90 teams and approximately 2,000 junior hockey players during this phase of Talk Today implementation process. The pandemic, however, has impacted not only the delivery of the suicide prevention training component of the program, but the Talk Today game day events as well. 


safeTALK is a globallyrecognized suicide prevention training that educates participants on how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, engaging someone, and connecting someone in need to life-saving resources. The workshop is three hours in duration and incorporates a visual presentation, in addition to participant engagement and open discussion. 


In spite of challenges through the 2020-21 hockey season, CMHA branches across five jurisdictions managed to work with league and club partners to conduct safeTALK.


Real Stories

Since the beginning of Talk Today, another measure of the program’s impact is emphasized through a variety of anecdotes that illustrate the support Talk Today has provided players, team staff and executives. 

2020-21 Season

  • British Columbia Hockey League management reached out to CMHA Ontario regarding a player with mental health concerns while waiting for hockey to return. Within 24 hours, CMHA Ontario provided a local CMHA branch contact person so that this player could receive support. 
  • The mother of a CCHL player reached out to a CMHA Mental Health Coach via a LinkedIn message. CMHA Ottawa was quickly contacted and then connected with the mother and player to offer assistance
  • A General Manager of an MHL team reached out to CMHA Ontario regarding a player in need of some support, struggling with being away from home. CMHA Ontario quickly connected the GM with CMHA Nova Scotia representatives who were ready to provide support and resources for the player.  


“From the demands of schooling to the pressures of elite competition and high performance, there are many factors that can affect the well-being of MJHL athletes, and it’s important to us that they know there’s support available. Through this partnership with CMHA, we’re making mental health education and awareness a priority for our athletes and the communities in which they play.” – MJHL Commissioner Kevin Saurette.


While this past year CMHA branches and local teams were unable to participate in game day events together. We are looking forward to continuing to work with teams to promote positive mental health in communities across Canada.


CMHA branches and participating leagues and teams share social posts including #TalkToday to continue to raise awareness beyond their local communities. The social media posts usually centre around the designated game day month for participating leagues. While we were unable to focus this component around gamedays this past year, our news releases launching in the SJHL and AJHL generated considerable social media buzz. On Twitter, #TalkToday was able to generate a reach of over 95,000 and received 219,000 impressions.

We look forward to continuing to work with leagues and teams to support positive mental health on social.

2019-20 Social Media Results

In November 2019, #TalkToday reached 175,000 users (151,000 in English, 24,000 in French) on Twitter, with 1.1 million impressions. From September 2019, #TalkToday had reached a total of 1.6 million users in English and nearly 142,000 in French, for a total of 1.74 million.

More Real Stories

2019-20 Season

  • All leagues contacted and worked with CMHA Ontario and respective CMHA provincial entities to provide resources to teams and players throughout COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The head coach of the Hearst Lumberjacks reached out to CMHA Ontario for advice and support when releasing a player who they knew had mental health concerns. The coach was then connected with their CMHA Mental Health Coach, and together they devised a plan of how to share the news with the player, while also including support resources.
  • The Blind River Beavers reached out to CMHA Sault Ste. Marie for support following their safeTALK training.
  • The Executive Director of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) reached out to CMHA Ontario regarding a player in the league who was struggling with personal issues, wanting to ensure they had resources available for him. CMHA Ontario worked to connect the BCHL and the respective team in Merritt with their local branch, CMHA Vancouver Fraser.
  • Following the loss of a player’s brother to suicide, the Timmins Rock (NOJHL) reached out to their Mental Health Coach at CMHA Cochrane Timiskaming for support. The Mental Health Coach and a colleague held an immediate ‘debriefing’ support meeting with the team.
  • During an OHL game between Niagara and London, IceDogs’ goaltender Tucker Tynan was severely cut by a skate. The game was postponed as he was taken to hospital. Local CMHA branches for both teams were notified of the incident immediately  and reached out to offer support and necessary resources for players if needed. Niagara’s general manager stated that he also posted the resources and information sent by the local CMHA branch in the dressing room for players to see and utilize if needed.
  • A Barrie Colts (OHL) player was put in touch with CMHA Simcoe County for support after being informed he would be sent down to Rayside (NOJHL). As both organizations have implemented and participate in Talk Today, the player continued to receive support through the transition and the days following.

Previous Seasons

  • A player in the NOJHL who had been suspended for a fight had the team reach out to connect him with the local CMHA branch for support.
  • A CMHA branch was able to meet with the French River Rapids following their bus crash in the 2018-19 season to speak to the players about resources and where to reach out if support was needed.
  • In March 2016, two NOJHL players recognized a teammate’s call for help via text messages and intervened in a suicide attempt. The player they helped received support from the local CMHA Mental Health Coach and branch.
  • A NOJHL team asked a CMHA branch Mental Health Coach to be present and provide support when it was releasing a player due to disciplinary reasons.
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