Anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, insecurity… No matter the sport, we all bring more than just our A-game. That’s why Team Alex offers training to equip coaches, players, and parents to proactively and openly talk about mental health – creating a culture where everyone belongs, can be themselves, and know they matter.
Suicide rates in youth have been going up at an alarming rate.
The teen years can be challenging, and poor mental health is increasingly threatening the lives of children in Canada. An estimated 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by mental illness, with 3.2 million from ages 12-19 being at risk of developing depression.
“I hate my life. I want to go away.” It’s a common conversation that indicates suicidal thoughts and plans. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people in Canada, accounting for 24% of all deaths among 15 to 24-year-olds. Teens are also admitted to the hospital for suicide attempts more than any other age group.
Together, we can make a difference. Coaches, parents and peers are the most likely to recognize the early warning signs of mental illness and suicidal ideation. Once a mental illness like depression is recognized, help can make a difference in 80% of those affected.
What is mental health?
According to The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), mental health is “the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity.”
Why does it matter?
Mental health affects each one of us and plays a role in how we think and feel about ourselves and others. It influences our ability to learn, communicate and maintain relationships. Having good mental health protects us from hardships and stressors that inevitably happen in life. When it comes to developing mental health problems or disorders, and suicidal tendencies, having good mental health can help reduce the risk.
Why is this training important?
People often don’t know how to respond.
There is a stigma associated with mental health problems
Not everyone with a mental health problem seeks treatment
Many people are not well informed
We work together with Sports Leagues across the Province of Alberta to educate and train leaders and coaches on this imperative subject. We aim to increase awareness while building resiliency and expanding the capacity for people to appropriately respond. Our dream is we would be able to extend our reach to include absolutely everyone, regardless of their location. Threaded throughout our work, we also strive to spread kindness to those around us to remind people that they are indeed valuable and loved.
What Does the Training Look Like?
It’s not always obvious when a child is having suicidal thoughts. With Team Alex training and certification, you’ll learn to spot the early signs of mental health issues and how to manage tough conversations with children and youth. Our interactive training is available in person or on Zoom.
In this training developed for coaches, assistant coaches and volunteers in youth sports, participants learn:
- Positive coaching strategies to help build confidence and self-esteem in players
- The impact of building healthy and trusting relationships
- Information on bullying
- Reducing Stigma
- Youth mental health and suicide; we equip participants to recognize when a player is experiencing distress and how to confidently offer support and assist them in accessing the supports they need.
This training was not designed to create mental health professionals but rather mental health supporters and connect coaches to a network of peers so we can make a difference in the well-being of our youth today.
Mental Health Awareness
Studies indicate that in any given year, one in every five Canadian adults under age 65 will have a mental health problem. It is estimated that every Canadian will be indirectly affected because a friend, family member or colleague suffers from a mental health issue The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
Many illnesses first develop in adolescence or young adulthood, affecting people at a time in their lives when they are establishing important relationships, self-confidence and educational or career paths. This can have a devastating effect on young people and their families if left unrecognized and untreated. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
About 4,000 Canadians per year die by suicide—an average of almost 11 suicides a day.It affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Statistics Canada, 2018
In Ontario about 2% of adults and 14% of high-school students report having seriously contemplated suicide in the past year. 4% of high-school students report having attempted suicide. Ialomiteanu et al (2016) CAMH Monitor eReport: Substance use, mental health and well being among Ontario adults
More than 75% of suicides involve men, but women attempt suicide 3 to 4 times more often.
Statistics Canada (2018). Deaths and age specific mortality rates, by selected group causes, Canada 2016
After accidents, it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-24.Statistics Canada (2018). Deaths & age-specific mortality rates, by selected group causes, Canada, 2016
Social Media / Bullying
Because of the strong connection between bullying and suicide, the development of bullying prevention and intervention programs is vital (van Geel, et al., 2014)
Cyber bullying victims are 2X more likely to attempt suicide (Hinduja & Patchin, 2010)
Bullying is related to negative psychological, emotional and behavioural outcomes. These outcomes can eventually make youth feel as though they can no longer cope (Wade & Beran, 2011).
“If players start badmouthing their teammates for messing up a play, it’s vital that the coach shuts this down immediately before the negativity becomes a poison on the bench. The training provided by TEAM ALEX helps coaches like me be more aware and recognize situations like this before they become a problem.”
CMHA is happy to endorse a new program for Coaches and Parents. The creators of Team Alex have worked diligently to build a quality training on the topic of youth suicide from a sports and coaching perspective. CMHA strongly recommends parents and coaches of children and youth to attend these course that will provide a greater awareness of what is needed to prevent youth suicide. Suicide does not discriminate. We all have to work together to support our kids!
Christine Stewart, Former Executive Director
Canadian Mental Health Association, Central AB Region
After the tragic loss of Alex, who died by suicide in May 2019, his heartbroken family formed Team Alex. Through collective effort, we strive to equip, train and support individuals in obtaining the education needed to support those who may be thinking of escaping their pain by suicide.
Because of Alex’s love for hockey, our focus is on supporting players, coaches, and parents in
sports leagues and teams across Alberta.