Mental Health is often a taboo subject, but the NHL, including the Anaheim Ducks, have taken great strides to break the stigma.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it is dedicated to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health issues. While the hockey season is almost over, that doesn’t mean that the NHL as a whole, including the Anaheim Ducks, haven’t taken big strides to support those who struggle with their mental health.
Surprisingly, there is a large percentage of hockey players that also struggle with their mental health. Unfortunately, mental health is no respecter of persons and depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and more can affect anyone.
There are many players who work behind the scenes to break the stigma, but there are also several players who have been outspoken about mental health. A familiar face to the Anaheim Ducks organization is Kevin Bieksa. In 2011, he launched a mental health website in the wake of the passing of his former teammate, Rick Rypien.
More from Ducks News
- Who could the Anaheim Ducks consider presenting offer sheets to?
- Is Pierre-Luc Dubois on the cards for the rebuilding Anaheim Ducks?
- Making the case for the Anaheim Ducks to trade with the Edmonton Oilers
- Anaheim Ducks might benefit tremendously by trading John Gibson
- How close are the Anaheim Ducks to becoming contenders again?
The NHL Players Association also launched the “Hockey Talks” initiative, which the Anaheim Ducks participated in with the Ottawa Senators (who are the frontrunner of D.I.F.D.) Each Canadian hockey team is given the chance to choose a night to raise awareness and get people talking about mental health. This opens up the dialogue and gives people the courage to seek help.
Nick Boynton has been very open about his struggles with addiction and depression. Former Blackhawk, Daniel Carcillo has also been very open with his mental health struggles and is hopeful that other players will be open about their own struggles.
A Familiar Fighter Serves as Inspiration
For those of us who struggle with mental health issues, it can sometimes take extra effort just to do everyday activities. We live in fear that at any moment, the other shoe will drop and our depression or anxiety will leave us paralyzed. However, that is the one thing that I love about hockey; you can find inspiration virtually anywhere, and this season, a lot of us found inspiration from Ryan Kesler.
In an article published by Sports Illustrated, Kesler opened up about just how excruciatingly painful the journey to 1,000 games was. There were some highs, but he also experienced many lows. Yet, despite all of it, he had determination in his eyes and he kept fighting.
Sometimes we just need that to reminder to keep fighting. The journey may have hills and it will certainly have valleys. However, it is the people we surround ourselves with, our community and our village, that hold us up when we can’t walk. While we don’t have any insight into Ryan Kesler’s personal life, and we do not know if he struggles with his mental health, he, along with the rest of the Anaheim Ducks, has often given us something to root for when we did not have the strength to cheer for ourselves, and thus, we have pushed forward with the small fraction of determination they have inspired us with.
It Takes a Village… or a Skein
“Ducks fly together” was a term coined in the Mighty Ducks trilogy, and it has often been a mantra of the Anaheim Ducks and their fans. However, it doesn’t just apply to the game of hockey. It also applies to the friends we make along the way.
Whether we live in SoCal or are long distance Anaheim Ducks fans, one thing is certain, we can lean on each other during the moments when we are struggling the most. The most important message you must glean from this, however, is that you are brave. Struggling with mental health issues or asking for/seeking help doesn’t make us weak, and it’s time to break the stigma!
Do you miss Anaheim Ducks hockey already? Why not pick up a new summer hobby and join the Pucks of a Feather staff? All you have to do is fill out the application above!