Today marked a very important day when it comes to mental health.
Bell Let’s Talk Day helps raise awareness, support, and funds for mental health initiatives in Canada. Bell, a telecommunications company in Canada, promises to donate 5 cents for every RT and Tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk.
But what exactly is Bell Let’s Talk, and what does it mean? Many people around the globe are affected by mental health issues, and this initiative helps bring awareness to those issues. This day is about Bell doing what it can to get people talking about mental health in order to help end the stigma. On days like today, it seems that the whole social media community comes together as one to support a great cause.
The hockey community, however, has a very strong connection to the campaign.
Because it’s a sport dominated by toughness and physicality, many think that hockey players are not only physically tough, but mentally tough as well. However, many hockey players (and other athletes) struggle with depression, and fans like you and I would never even know it.
Many stories come to mind of players in the NHL battling depression. One of those players was Vancouver Canucks enforcer Rick Rypien. Rypien was “that guy,” the guy who stuck up for his teammates and wasn’t afraid to fight anyone. In spite of the size difference, Rypien is the kind of guy who probably would have fought Zdeno Chara if it meant protecting a teammate.
Rypien was the epitome of an NHL tough guy, but he also battled depression for years and eventually committed suicide on August 15, 2011 cutting his NHL career short.
Another player who battled depression was Toronto Maple Leaf Wade Belak.
Belak was drafted 12th overall, and you would’ve thought anyone who was drafted in the first round and found a regular place on an NHL team must have a pretty happy life right? But, as we know, looks can be deceiving.
Like Rypien, Belak was an enforcer. As a result of his dedication to playing the game he loved, Belak bounced around from Toronto to Florida to Nashville, finding it hard to stick in a spot he could call home. Many people in the hockey community say he was one of the nicest all around players they ever met. However, tragedy struck the hockey community once again just 16 days after the hockey world lost Rypien, as Belak passed away; the cause of death was eventually ruled accidental suicide. Belak’s mother stated that he had been battling depression, which no one knew from outward appearances.
The last player that comes to my mind is Derek Boogaard.
Boogaard also suffered from mental health issues, and like the guys above, left the hockey community in awe of his toughness.
Boogaard overdosed on drugs and alcohol accidentally, passing away in May of 2011. After his death, his brain was studied and doctors found out that he had suffered from CTE. Boogaard used drugs and alcohol to “escape” the real world and, unfortunately, he didn’t receive the help he needed.
These three players passed away in about a four month span, rocking the hockey community. In the aftermath of these tragic losses, fans and players alike called for the NHL to do something about mental health awareness, which explains why the league’s players are so involved in Bell Let’s Talk day.
Today, many Boston Bruins players showed their support for mental health awareness by using the designated hashtag from Bell.
We need to realize that we are not alone and that if you need to talk to someone, we are here for you. #BellLetsTalk— Ryan Spooner (@RSpooner2376) January 31, 2018
With the hockey community so impacted by mental health issues, it’s great to see the players rally around this cause and show support for those in need.
Many of us struggle with mental health issues, and if you’re one of those people, days like today serve as a clear way to let you know that you are not alone.
Kudos to the NHL and its players for supporting a great cause.