A new video featuring the Chatham Maroons, who play under the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League, is promoting an app which helps youth deal with mental health challenges.
“One part we don’t talk enough about is your mental health,” said Maroons goaltending coach Bino Pereira.
The Mental Health Social Planning and Action (SPA) Table in Chatham-Kent, which includes more than a dozen community partners, is launching the video this week to show young viewers “it’s okay to not be okay.”
“We thought it was important that youth know where mental health resources are when they need it,” said mental health educator Cathy Knowler.
Knowler added there is a heightened sense of depression among youth since the pandemic.
The video shows Maroons players in various situations, helping each other out by promoting the Be Safe app which identifies local and national mental health resources.
Users can create a safety plan on what to do if a mental health crisis emerges. It also shows users what to say when they call or go to the hospital for help.
Maroons forward Braeden Burke said he is happy to be in the video because it gives him an opportunity to help others.
“People my age especially are afraid to talk about what they go through,” Burke said. “I feel like you can always talk to anybody. There’s always a place to talk.”
Tammy Drazilov, coordinator at the Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare Regional Children’s Centre, has been an advocate of the app for five years.
“As adults, friends and caregivers, we can all support young people by having it available and sharing it when our young people are struggling,” Drazilov said.
“I have it on my phone. I share it all the time.”
Youth demand for mental health services is seemingly rising. The operations manager for the Youth Wellness Hub, which offers free mental health services to people ages 12 to 25, said her facility had to turn people away last month.
According to Angela Thompson, the Youth Wellness Hub reached its capacity during 70 per cent of the days they were open in January.
“After the holiday, we typically see the need rise in January … It speaks to the resources that need to be invested in the youth mental health sector,” said Thompson, adding the hub is also seeing an increase in youth with trauma.
“That’s been a startling number for us as well.”
The Be Safe app is available on both iOS and Android.