OPP and NHLAA team up to put the stigma around mental health in the penalty box
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2019 6:42PM EDT
Ontario Provincial Police has teamed up with the National Hockey League Alumni Association (NHLAA) to create awareness around mental health and how to deal with mental illness.
In front of a quiet and captivated audience, Dave Truax, a retired OPP Detective Superintendent, tells of how he learned his son had taken his own life. "The contingent officer tells me my son Devon was found dead," he says. "When you break this news to someone, it's about the same as taking a baseball bat and swinging it right across their gut."
Former NHL player Jim McKenny spoke about his struggles with mental illness. "I have the disease. I have a panic anxiety disorder, and I'm also a recovered drug addict and alcoholic," he admits. "I think a lot of people look up to hockey players and they think they're big, tough guys and all that, but, you know, after they're finished playing your body starts to break down and you have all of these ramifications going on and on."
Truax spoke about ways to improve mental health through things like exercise, and about the importance of better OPP training. He says it's crucial that officers, hockey players, and anyone in the community look out for one another. "If someone reaches out and says 'I need your help,' that's serious. Don't put that off. I never got that call," he says.
The OPP plans to continue with the speaker series and hold events like the one today every few months.