Mike Babcock, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been using his notoriety in Canada to bring awareness to the issue of mental illness. After having lost two friends in the same summer as a result of mental illness, Babcock knew he needed to learn more about the problem and how he could help. He has since become a mental health ambassador in the NHL and beyond.
In a sport where grit and toughness are necessities, Babcock wants his players and others to know that mental toughness has nothing to do with mental health. Babcock admits that prior to the deaths of his friends, he had not seen mental illness as a prevalent issue because he had not known what to look for. Now he is more educated and has made it his mission to share that knowledge with others. His first bit of advice? Check what is happening in your own family. Are you giving your family members the space to be vulnerable and communicate when they are having problems? Talking through issues is not a sign of weakness, and the more we talk to one another, the more aware we will be.
In November, Babcock teamed up with Babsocks and Movember in an initiative called Ahead of the Game to raise funds for mental health awareness.
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