Celebrating a Decade of Impact: Talk Today Program Reaches New Heights


Celebrating a Decade of Impact: Canadian Mental Health Association’s Talk Today Program Reaches New Heights

This year marks the 10th season of CMHA’s Talk Today program, an initiative that has significantly impacted communities across Canada, including Calgary. Over the past decade, Talk Today has become a cornerstone of mental health support, providing critical resources and raising awareness about mental health issues among athletes and their support networks.

A Look Back at Our Journey

Since its inception, Talk Today has aimed to break down the stigma associated with mental health in sports. Our program offers educational sessions, resources, and support for athletes, coaches, and parents, ensuring they have the tools to maintain mental wellness. The program has grown exponentially, reaching thousands of participants each year and expanding its influence across various sports disciplines.

“Talk Today has been more than just a program; it has been a lifeline for many in our community. We are proud of the milestones we have achieved and remain committed to supporting mental health for athletes at all levels.”
— Kimberley, Program Manager, Community Education and Wellness at CMHA Calgary

CMHA Calgary’s Contribution to Success

CMHA Calgary has been instrumental in promoting the program locally and ensuring that athletes and their families receive the support they need.

“We’re extremely grateful to partner with the Calgary Hitmen and the AJHL to host Talk Today to increase public awareness and to promote mental health in this community,” said Kimberley. “The Calgary Hitmen players and coaches are seen as leaders in the Calgary community. Through their leadership and initiative in completing the Talk Today program, not only will the players and coaches be encouraged to speak openly about mental health and suicide, those who look up to the Hitmen will know that they are not alone if they are struggling.”

With the upcoming NHL draft, we are reminded of the immense pressure young athletes face as they transition to professional sports. The draft is a significant milestone in an athlete’s career, often accompanied by intense scrutiny and high expectations. Through Talk Today, we aim to provide these athletes with the mental health support they need to navigate this critical period. By partnering with teams like the Calgary Hitmen, we ensure that mental health resources are readily available to those on the path to the NHL.

A key piece of the Talk Today program has been to educate players about mental health and suicide prevention. CMHA – Calgary Region has been working with Calgary Hitmen players and coaches to provide mental health education. The team is now linked to a CMHA Mental Health Coach who can provide support and mental health resources to those individuals in need. In the 2022-23 season, the program expanded to the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), involving teams from Olds, Drumheller, Calgary, and Cochrane.

“Calgary’s involvement in Talk Today has been crucial. Our community’s dedication to mental health awareness and support has helped the program flourish here. We are proud to be a part of this national initiative.”
— Kimberley, Program Manager, Community Education and Wellness at CMHA Calgary

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

A core component of the Talk Today program has always been mental health and suicide prevention education. The educational sessions are designed to equip athletes, coaches, and parents with the knowledge and skills to support each other and themselves. These sessions include discussions on recognizing the signs of mental distress, understanding how to access resources, and learning how to foster a supportive environment.

The program also features a peer support element, where athletes are encouraged to support their teammates. This peer-driven approach has proven to be effective in creating a more open and supportive culture within sports teams.

In the AJHL, CMHA Calgary hosted four Talk Today games, emphasizing mental health awareness and providing suicide prevention education to the players. The total number of AJHL players trained is 83. This training focused on key areas such as mental health awareness, recognizing signs of mental distress, suicide prevention, and knowing how to engage and support teammates. The players are encouraged to “team up” and talk about mental health, creating an environment where support is always available.

Calgary Hitmen defenceman Carter Yakemchuk, who took the Talk Today program, is among the players who have greatly benefited from the initiative. Carter, now NHL draft eligible, exemplifies the positive impact of the program. His participation in Talk Today not only prepared him for the pressures of professional sports but also equipped him with the skills to support his peers.

Looking Forward

As we celebrate this milestone, we are also looking ahead to the future of Talk Today. Our goals for the next decade include:

  • Expanding our reach to more sports disciplines and communities.
  • Enhancing our digital offerings to provide accessible resources to a wider audience.
  • Continuing to foster a culture of openness and support around mental health in sports.

“The success of Talk Today is a testament to our community’s dedication to mental health. We are excited about the future and look forward to making an even greater impact.”
— Kimberley, Program Manager, Community Education and Wellness at CMHA Calgary

Get Involved

We invite you to join us in celebrating the success of Talk Today and supporting our mission. Whether you are an athlete, coach, parent, or community member, your involvement can make a difference.

For more information about Talk Today and to access our resources, visit http://www.talktoday.ca/ and check out our podcast series on Spotify.

Thank you for being a part of this incredible journey. Together, we can continue to break down barriers and support mental health in sports.