The study was based on interviews with 19 National Hockey League (NHL) players and former players in Canada and the United States.
Several athletes have, for example, reported having difficulty trusting support staff within the organization, such as sports doctors or psychologists, for fear that the general managers will be informed and that this will affect their career and their chances on the ice.
This is as true for the youngest recruits as it is for the league’s star players, says the professor at the school of kinesiology in UBCStudy co-authors Mark Beauchamp and Masters of Kinesiology student Katie Crawford.
We have found that if a team member reports a bad experience following a consultation with a professional, the news spreads like wildfire and drastically reduces requests for help from other team members.explains Katie Crawford.
Many players have said that they would feel more comfortable seeking psychological help from professionals who are not part of the NHL.
Standardize the gait
Mark Beauchamp wants this sample of 19 players to allow for a broader conversation about the place of mental health in hockey.
I hope this will help mobilize support for these athletes, but it will also normalize the conversation. [autour de la santé mentale] for the rest of us, since it’s okay to need helphe said.
The professor also indicates that when important players like Carey Price, the goalkeeper of the Montreal Canadiens (New window)publicly announce that they need to take a break and seek help for their mental health, this is beneficial for all players by reducing stigma.
Players interviewed for the study shared similar comments. They say seeing other players talk about the challenges they face helps de-stigmatize mental health issues and encourages them to seek helpexplains Mark Beauchamp.
The researchers, however, say they have seen a shift at some clubs where the conversation around mental health was more normalized, but say deeper changes need to be made to inspire players to seek help when needed.