Cougars Introduce Mental Health Awareness Program

The Victoria Cougars have been proud members of the VIJHL since 1998. Over those 21 years, we have strived to continually improve our program, and are one of the elite teams in our League and across the Province. During this time, we have focused on the development of our youth players and coaches to a high-performance level, and to be community-minded young men.

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed that in trying to achieve these goals, there have been mental health challenges faced by some of our athletes, coaches and staff. When we consider our players, it is important for us to consider their mental health as a contributing factor to not only our team’s success, but to their lifetime outcomes overall.

Thus, this year, The Victoria Cougars are proud to announce that we have introduced a Mental Health Program component to our organization for the 2019-20 season. We believe that this is the first program of its kind in the VIJHL, and we are hoping that with this program’s success, other teams will follow suit in prioritizing mental health services as necessary components of youth sport.

Our program allows the players and coaches to seek individual and group counselling from an independent counsellor. Additionally, we are providing information seminars for all Cougars staff about important topics focusing on improving the mental health of our players. We hope to show our players that talking about their lives and issues in counselling is a strength, and that sharing aspects of their lives with both a therapist and their teammates can have profound effects on their well-being. We feel it is important for the young men on the Cougars to have a safe outlet to foster their mental growth in tandem with their training as young athletes. What’s more, we hope to show them that not only can working on their mental health make change in their lives, but it can be a fun and enjoyable experience as well.

Psychological research shows strong links between accessing mental health support and better performance in competitive sport. And while this may be reason enough to offer mental health support to our players and coaches, we at the Cougars feel it is our responsibility to support the mental wellness of all members of our organization, encouraging them to seek success both on and off the ice.

We look forward to providing ongoing updates about our Mental Health Program as the year progresses.