Championships at Markham Pan Am Centre to promote mental health
(Toronto, June 1, 2023) – Taekwondo Canada, Taekwondo Ontario, and Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario, are pleased to announce a new partnership on a pilot of the Talk Today program, one of the most comprehensive sports mental health programs in Canada.
In 2022, Taekwondo Canada became the first national sport organization to initiate a partnership on Talk Today. With the support of Taekwondo Ontario, Black Belt World in Vaughan has been selected as the club to pilot the program.
As part of this partnership, Black Belt World will be working with their local Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region South Simcoe branch, to deliver mental health and suicide prevention training to their athletes, along with support from a local CMHA mental health coach. The CMHA mental health coach from the branch will help guide participating athletes if they are looking for mental health information or services.
In addition to support for their club, Black Belt World and Taekwondo Ontario are also using their platform during the upcoming Black Belt World Canadian Taekwondo Championships and Ontario Provincial Team Trials to promote positive mental health throughout the weekend. The event runs June 3-4 at the Markham Pan Am Centre where they will be sharing positive messages about mental health online. Participants and spectators attending the event will also be able to learn more about resources available in their community by stopping by CMHA Ontario’s information booth.
“Taekwondo Canada is proud to participate in the Talk Today program and this event in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario,” said executive director Dave Harris. “In funding this project, we believe we’re making a concerted effort to work with our youth to ensure they’re being provided with the necessary coping skills that can ensure good mental health. We also want to thank our partners Taekwondo Ontario and Black Belt World for their assistance in piloting the Talk Today program. I know they share Taekwondo Canada’s goal of creating a better mental health landscape for our youth.”
“Black Belt World Canada is honoured to have been chosen as the pilot school in Canada for the Talk Today program by Taekwondo Canada and Taekwondo Ontario,” said grand master Tommy Chang. “This program has a significant impact on the mental health of individuals and is essential in creating awareness and spreading education through the Taekwondo community.”
“Taekwondo Ontario is thrilled to be the first provincial association to participate in the Talk Today program in partnership with Taekwondo Canada and CMHA Ontario,” said executive director Ka-On Tong. “As the province with the highest number of Taekwondo athletes throughout Canada, we look forward to highlighting the importance of positive mental health in our communities through our membership and programs.”
“We’re excited to be partnering with Taekwondo Canada, Taekwondo Ontario and Black Belt World Vaughan to deliver our Talk Today pilot,” said Talk Today program and communications manager Alex Salomie. “With their support, we’re working to normalize conversations about mental health and suicide with their members.”
Originally launched by CMHA Ontario in partnership with the Ontario Hockey League in 2014, Talk Today provides an important opportunity to address the mental health needs of athletes across the province and across Canada. Since its inception, Talk Today has grown to support Canada’s two highest levels of junior hockey, the Canadian Hockey League and Canadian Junior Hockey League, while continuing to see expansion in local communities with post-secondary institutions and local sports organizations.
Components of Talk Today
- Mental health and suicide prevention training for athletes – All participating athletes over the age of 15 receive evidence-based suicide prevention training. Participants under the age of 15 will receive a one-hour mental health and wellness presentation.
- CMHA Mental Health Coach – CMHA assigns a Mental Health Coach to each participating club to provide community mental health resources and supports for the participants as well as the people that surround them.
- Mental Health Champions – Each club will appoint an internal Mental Health Champion who acts as a club advocate on mental health issues and helps participants connect with their local CMHA Mental Health Coach should they be in need of support.
- Talk Today awareness events – Each club uses one event per year to help raise awareness about mental health and suicide prevention in partnership with their local CMHA branch.
- Since 2014, over 8,600 athletes, coaches, staff and parents have received suicide awareness training through Talk Today.
- A 2021 McGill evaluation of the Talk Today program in the OHL found that 78 per cent of athletes and 90 per cent of staff were satisfied with the program.
- The McGill evaluation also found that 87 per cent of OHL team staff say they are likely to change the way they behave in response to someone with a mental health issue.
For more information, contact:
Talk Today program and communications manager
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario