Local mental health advocate Garrett McFadden touts importance of Mental Health Awareness Week

With next week being Mental Health Awareness Week, a local mental health advocate is reminding everyone of the importance of self care.

Kincardine’s Garrett McFadden, founder of McFadden’s Movement, wants everyone to continue talking about mental health. McFadden, a former Guelph Storm captain and current pro hockey player in the ECHL for the Reading Royals, says mental health awareness, even in sports, continues to improve.

“I think the importance not only stressed by the teams and leagues, but I think amongst players themselves, it’s definitely changed a lot. I think we’re definitely improving I guess what you would call the safe space to talk about your feelings, and I think the OHL, as an example, is doing a great job with their Talk Today program, and helping those guys out because I know those are huge developmental years,” McFadden said. “I think the league has done a really good job of kind of opening the conversation and putting the right resources and the right people in place for those guys, and allowing them to kind of step back and have those conversations. And they can do that without worrying about it getting back to a coach or whatever, but I wouldn’t say that’s a huge issue now, because coaches are obviously more aware of that being something that impacts a player’s productivity.”

McFadden is also serving as captain of the Royals, and continues to garner respect as a leader on, and more importantly to him, off the ice.

McFadden’s Movement, which raises funds for Wes For Youth Online and the Canadian Mental Health Association, will host the 3rd annual McFadden’s Movement Celebrity Charity Golf Tournament this summer on July 21 at Ariss Valley Golf and Country Club in Guelph. The organization also involves Stephanie Coratti, a former Guelph Storm employee who helped McFadden launch the program. Coratti is currently employed by the Greater Toronto Hockey League, and McFadden frequently visits youth hockey players and teams to share his story and give the message of mental health importance to young athletes.
In years past, McFadden notes that mental health awareness was somewhat overlooked, but now, the focus on it is becoming the norm in sports, which includes support from coaches, franchises and leagues.
“If you look at the way coaches look at it now, in my opinion, I think it’s important for guys to be feeling good mentally because they’re gonna get the best performance on the ice. Maybe back in the day it was something where you were kinda looked on as being weak, or if a guy was struggling with mental health it was kind of a red flag. But I think now it’s something that players, coaches, organizations and leagues are sort of working together to try to get the most out of the players,” noted McFadden.
“I mean when you look at it from sort of that business standpoint, that’s what you want from your players, and you want them to be as productive as possible,” McFadden continued. “And it’s gonna help the team for the greater good anyways, so I feel like that has kind of transitioned from maybe it being a bit of a distraction, to now being at the forefront of making sure guys are not only getting what they need physically, and making sure they’re treated and working out, but also taking care of their mental health.”
McFadden says another very important aspect is the number of high end athletes speaking out on mental health. In recent years, tennis star Naomi Osaka, USA Olympian and all-time gymnast Simone Biles, NHLers like Robin Lehner, and many, many others have either written about their mental health, or stepped aside from competition to take care of their mental health. Just this year, numerous Major League Baseball players have been allowed to take leaves from their teams for mental health reasons.
“The highest level athletes, and all-stars, and guys that you maybe wouldn’t think have a lot going on, for them to be writing articles and doing interviews about mental health, it’s both inspirational but it also helps the youth and helps athletes kind of know that there is that safe space, and it’s not gonna be something that’s gonna hinder your career or your playing time, but it’s only gonna help,” McFadden shared.
More information about Garrett and McFadden’s Movement can be found here: https://mcfaddensmovement.com/. Mental Health Awareness Week runs May 15-21.

For a full interview with Garrett McFadden, click here:

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