Brock student-athletes, coaches discuss the importance of mental health

Photo Credit: Brock Men’s Hockey Twitter

Photo Credit: Brock Men’s Hockey Twitter

With Bell Let’s Talk set to take place on January 30, Brock Sports has already turned its focus on the initiative in support of ending the stigma around mental health. A number of Brock’s athletic programs took part in Bell Let’s Talk themed games this past weekend and it provided a platform for a conversation regarding the importance of mental health — not only in general but also in an athletic context.

Men’s basketball head coach Madhav Trivedi explained the role as a coach in the push towards improved mental health.

“You’re on a platform as athletes; in universities where a lot of eyes are on you and you know that people are watching and people are listening, there’s pressure. There’s pressure to perform, there’s pressure to do all of these other things and I think that pressure, when you’re in competitive sport, gets to people,” said Trivedi. “As coaches you need to keep tabs on how everybody is doing and just let them know that it’s okay if you’re struggling in a certain area and that they can definitely come to us if there’s anything.”

For student-athletes, everything intersects and a balance is needed to strive day-in and day-out.

“It’s hard enough to balance school, social life, and the sport you play as it is, having good mental health is an important part in trying to maintain that balance,” said Logan House, a key asset to the Brock men’s volleyball team.

A relationship between coaches and athletes to help maintain this balance remains important as ever in ensuring athletes are well supported to overcome mental struggles. Along with that, a sense of team and belonging is important.

“We try and create that cohesion, we try and create that family atmosphere that overcomes the mental illness woes that we have today in life,” said women’s basketball head coach Mike Rao. “A lot of it is from isolation, so that’s what we’re doing within our team and we try and expand that to everybody that comes in contact with us.”

For a coach, sometimes it can be about changing the perspective and shifting the way things have been looked at traditionally in order to create positive change. There is more to an athlete than simply the product on the playing surface, and that mental health aspect is important to acknowledge.

“When we talk about being ‘fit’ as a team it’s just not the physical part of things, because the physical part is just one part of it,” said Brock women’s hockey head coach, Margot Page.

Mental health is a serious subject and the recent Bell Let’s Talk games shed a positive light on what can be a very dark and difficult subject to discuss for many. Which makes their inclusion in Brock’s home schedules even more valuable.

“I was in the OHL when there was a player down in Saginaw who took his life, and you don’t want that to happen to anybody,” said Marty Williamson, men’s hockey head coach. “You want avenues for them to be able to talk, for us the game meant an awful lot.”

As for the impact the Bell Let’s Talk games had for other teams; internally, it meant quite a lot for those involved. There was value drawn in them participating in something bigger that has impacted the conversation for plenty of people, resulting in solid support for the initiative.

“I think it’s super important for Brock to support the Bell Let’s Talk initiative. This campaign has helped to break the stigma associated with mental health and has allowed people who suffer from these issues to know that they’re not alone,” said fourth-year women’s basketball player Baelie Campbell. “People are speaking up now more than ever and it’s surely helped many who have struggled in silence for so long.”

“I think something like this just shows how open-minded the youth of today are, it’s phenomenal. I just wish we had things like this when we were younger because it could have helped a lot,” said Page. “Bell Let’s Talk just shows that we have so many people talking about mental health and Brock embraces it for sure.”

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