Jan. 30, 2019

Hayley Wickenheiser and Sheldon Kennedy speak up about mental health for seventh annual Crowchild Classic

UCalgary and MRU rise above sporting rivalry to share important message of well-being
From left: Emma Pincott, Sheldon Kennedy, Dylan Busenius and Hayley Wickenheiser team up to share an important message in support of mental health.

Emma Pincott, Sheldon Kennedy, Dylan Busenius and Hayley Wickenheiser team up for mental health.

University of Calgary

As a series of cheers and chants erupted across the sea of red and royal blue, thousands of eyes fixed on the JumboTron, hanging over centre ice with the words Talk, Listen, Support — three simple actions that when put into practice have a profound effect on mental health.

Largely considered as one of the most popular university sporting events across the city, the seventh annual Crowchild Classic added a new element to this year’s programming — a surprise video message from Canadian hockey icons Hayley Wickenheiser and Sheldon Kennedy alongside student athletes Emma Pincott of Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary’s own Dylan Busenius. 

Despite the longstanding sporting rivalry between UCalgary and MRU, wellness services at the two universities worked in partnership to bring an important message about mental health to students in attendance.

“Mental health is critical to physical health. Athletes aren’t immune to mental illnesses,” says Wickenheiser, current student in the Cumming School of Medicine, widely known as one of the greatest female ice hockey players in the world. 

“It’s important for me to build in something fun each day to do or to focus on, something to look forward to. That’s what makes life meaningful and enjoyable.”

A passionate advocate for ending child abuse, former NHL player Kennedy believes listening is a vital skill necessary to end the stigma of mental illness. “I used to think that when somebody came to me with something that might be concerning to them I had to fix them and I had to have all the answers,” he says.

“What I’ve learned over the past 25 years of doing this work and having many disclosures is that listening is a skill and it has to be practiced. It’s probably the most important thing that we need to understand in dealing with mental health issues.”

In addition to featuring the Talk, Listen, Support videos, members of UCalgary’s and MRU’s student wellness services were in attendance at both games, engaging with students and providing information on supports available at each institution.

Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Visit the Campus Mental Health Strategy website and join the conversation!

The University of Calgary’s Campus Mental Health Strategy and Mount Royal University Wellness Services produced Talk, Listen, Support videos in collaboration, highlighting their joint commitment to prioritizing mental health in sport and across campus.

Talk | Listen | Support: We are a community of caring