CMHA efforts to improve youth athlete mental health gets financial boost

Province committing $125,000 to mental health education and awareness programs

The Canadian Mental Health Association’s (CMHA) efforts to support young athlete mental health are getting a boost from the provincial government.

Queen’s Park announced on Wednesday that it is committing up to $125,000 in a partnership with CMHA. The funds will be used to help raise awareness of the impact of sports-related injuries on mental health. Funding will also help provide educational resources to coaches and parents so they may recognize the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

To do this, CMHA will use the funding to expand its interactive e-learning modules for coaches, provide educational videos for young athletes, tailored to specific age groups and with content such as mental health versus mental wellness, and dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression. A Mental Health and Amateur Sport microsite will also be provided to serve as an entry point to these modules and videos.

“The Canadian Mental Health Association has a proud history of supporting the mental health of athletes through our partnerships with junior hockey, post-secondary athletics and minor sports,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario. “We’re excited to work with the government to provide further mental health supports for the amateur sport community, providing athletes life skills they can use on or off the rink, court or field of play.”

Wednesday’s announcement came at an appropriate time: the province marks Rowan’s Law Day on the last Wednesday of September. The day honours Rowan String, a 17-year-old Ottawa rugby player who died in the spring of 2013 from a condition known as Second Impact Syndrome, a catastrophic swelling of the brain.

The Ontario Legislature passed Rowan’s Law in March 2018, which requires amateur sports organizations to establish removal-from-sport and return-to-sport protocols to ensure athletes are immediately removed from a game if they’ve sustained a concussion. The law also requires athletes to get medical clearance before they can return to play.