SUDBURY – 'Talk Today' was the message at two varsity soccer games at Cambrian College in Sudbury.
It's part of a mental health education initiative for athletes and also includes some important training.
Quinn Eggleton, Cambrian Shield soccer player, says she strongly supports the message 'Talk Today'.
"I feel silence is definitely a barrier because people feel like, I feel like they are scared that they are not important or they feel like their feelings are not important," said Eggleton.
The 'Talk Today' initiative is a partnership between the Canadian Mental Health Association and Cambrian College, aimed to educate varsity athletes about mental health.
"Our varsity athletes are leaders as well in the community, so if we get talking about mental health, we can start reducing stigma around just having the conversation around what mental health and mental illness is," said Catherine Poulton, Cambrian College Wellness Coordinator.
"I think there is a lot of stigma around mental illness, but when you add sport on top of that, you know it's all about mental toughness and resiliency, and sometimes maybe some athletes feel like if they express that they are struggling, that it is a sign of weakness," said Emily Zanini, Canadian Mental Health Association.
"I think this is just another step in making sure that everyone knows we are here to talk to you, we are here for whatever we can do to make sure that you are in a safe space," expressed Cambrian College Soccer Coach Evan Phillips.
Cambrian College and the Canadian Mental Health Association say they plan to expand the 'Talk Today' initiative to include all varsity sports in Sudbury. All of the athletes will also receive safe talk training.
"Safe talk training is 3 hours of suicide alertness, so participants who attend the training will learn how to recognize someone who might be struggling with thoughts of suicide, how to ask the question in an appropriate way, but also how to connect them with resources in the community that can keep them safe," said Zanini.
"When you hear a friend might be struggling or someone struggling, what are your thoughts, are you open to talking about it… I would love for someone to come to me because I know I could help them," said Eggleton.
She hopes that people who are struggling will reach out and 'Talk Today'.