Vancouver, B.C. – The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has selected the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL) to receive one of their highest honours for the team’s leadership in raising public awareness of mental illness. NAMI’s Rona and Ken Purdy Award is presented annually to an individual or group who has made a major contribution to promoting treatment and reducing the stigma often associated with mental illness.
The Vancouver Canucks, in collaboration with the six other Canadian NHL teams and with the support of the NHL, launched Hockey Talks, a month-long initiative in February to increase dialogue and awareness about mental health and effective treatments. The program generated a national conversation about mental health and wellness through online storytelling and social media engagement with fans through the hashtag #hockeytalks. Each team wore a Hockey Talks helmet decal, featured the Hockey Talks logo on rinkboards and dedicated a home game to the initiative, raising awareness in a variety of different avenues.
Hockey Talks is a continuation and expansion of the Canucks efforts to support and build awareness through mindcheck.ca, a partnership that has raised awareness for mental health education. Mindcheck.ca was initially launched in the Spring of 2010 by Fraser Health. The website was expanded to a provincial resource thanks to the Provincial Health Service Authority’s BC Mental Health and Addiction Services. mindcheck.ca enhances mental health literacy and this partnership has helped improve early recognition of mental health concerns, encourages the use of effective self-care strategies, and facilitates navigation of mental health services in BC.
"The Canucks have set an outstanding precedent in the sports world for team devotion to mental health education as a public service," said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick.
“Mental illness does not discriminate. It can strike anyone at any time and affect any family in the United States or Canada.”
“NAMI hopes recognition of the Canucks’ leadership will inspire more NHL teams, other sports leagues and fans everywhere to speak out and encourage people to get help when they need it.”
“It is a great honour to be recognized for the organization’s initiative and dedication to raising awareness about mental health and wellness,” said TC Carling, Vice-President, Communications & Community Partnerships, Canucks Sports & Entertainment. “We have dedicated ourselves in carrying on the legacy of our friend and former player Rick Rypien and his desire to help others suffering from mental illness. We hope that this recognition will bring further attention to mental health education and help alleviate stigma often associated with the disease so that individuals can feel at ease in asking for help.”
In selecting the Canucks for the award, NAMI also commended the NHL for its support of the initiative and the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets for their participation.
The Purdy Award is named in honor of the founders of NAMI Campaign to End Discrimination which, in the 1990s, helped launch the movement to for mental health parity in health insurance plans. Presentation of the award will occur at NAMI’s national convention in San Antonio, June 27-30.
NAMI is the largest grassroots mental health organization in the United States dedicated to building better lives for the millions of individuals and families affected by mental illness.
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